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SAP Seminar Series, "Sex, Blasphemy and Terrorism: Bangladesh's Systematic Repression of its LGBTQ Communities," by Raad Rahman

Monday, April 23, 2018 at 12:15pm to 1:30pm

Uris Hall, G08

The greatest current challenge facing Bangladesh's LGBTQ community is state sponsored repression in the face of rising intolerance and extremism. Since 2016, the once robust LGBTQ community has been forced into exile or underground, while activists and advocates for the freedom to love freely face security concerns and arrests when engaging within their own communities. This lecture will detail how expressing sexuality within the country's LGBTQ community shifted in recent years, and explore the implications of the terrorist attacks on Xulhaz Mannan and Mahbub Rabbi Tonoy. Mannan was the publisher of Bangladesh's only LGBTQ magazine Roopbaan, while Tonoy was a revered theater personality at the time of their untimely murders at the hands of Al-Qaeda. We will be looking at the response of Bangladesh's government to these murders, and how growing authoritarianism and extremism has affected this marginalized community's present day advocacy for equality and equanimity.

Raad Rahman is a writer, journalist, and human rights advocate. She is currently a fellow at the Secular Society, and a Bangladesh Country Advisor for the international human rights law firm i-Probono. She has previously worked with UNICEF, the International Center for Transitional Justice, and the Asia Society, in a career spanning the UK, India, Bangladesh, Jamaica, the USA, and Hungary. Her writing has been published in the New York Times, the Paris Review, the Baffler, the Guardian, Guernica, VICE, the Rumpus, Roads and Kingdoms, and UNICEF. She has received fellowships and grants from the Asian American Writers' Workshop, the Rory Peck Trust, the International Women's Media Foundation, PEN America, Open Society Foundation, Bard College, and  Harvard's Kennedy School, and residencies with the OMI International Arts Center, Hedgebrook, and Hypatia-in-the-Woods. She has degrees from Central European University and Bard College. She is currently working on a novel and lives in New York.

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Event Type



Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Mario Einaudi Center for International Studies, Asian Studies, South Asia Program


cashum, fgsscal


Free Admission

Contact E-Mail

Contact Name

Valerie Foster Githinji

Contact Phone

255 8493


Raad Rahman

Disability Access Information

Available upon request, contact for arrangements

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