I light a memorial candle for Xulhaz Mannan and Tanay Mojumdar, who were hacked to death for being “pioneers of practicing and promoting homosexuality in Bangladesh” on April 25 in Dhaka, Bangladesh.
The militant Islamist militant group Al-Qaeda claimed responsibility for murder in the south Asian nation, calling it a “blessed attack.”
Xulhaz Mannan was editor of Roopbaan, Bangladesh’s first and only LGBT magazine, and also an employee of the U.S. Agency for International Development. Before that he worked for eight years as protocol specialist at the a U.S. Embassy. He tried to organize a Rainbow Rally for LGBT youths on April 14, the Bengali New Year, but was stopped by officials. His friend Tanay Mojumdar was a theater and TV actor who sometimes helped with publishing the magazine.
Roopban was launched in 2014 to promote greater acceptance of LGBT people in Bangladesh.
An Associated Press news report explained:
Mannan had written openly about the frustration of living “in the closet” as a gay man in Bangladesh, where homosexual relations are considered a crime. In a May 2014 blog, he said gays and lesbians in Bangladesh experience “A country where the predominant religions say you are a sinner, the law of the land says you are a criminal, the social norms say you are a pervert, the culture considers you as imported.”
Mannon and his friend were killed a gang who got into his apartment by posing as messengers. Witnesses reported that the attackers yelled “Allahu Akbar” (“God is great”) as they left.
The misuse of religion to condone murder adds to the tragedy of their deaths. All life, including LGBT lives, must be honored and protected as God intended.
Al-Qaida says it killed Bangladesh gay activist, friend (Associated Press)
Al-Qaeda affiliate says it killed a gay rights activist and his friend in Bangladesh (Washington Post)
“Lotus Of Another Color: An Unfolding of the South Asian Gay and Lesbian Experience” by Rakesh Ratti (editor)
“Impossible Desires: Queer Diasporas and South Asian Public Cultures” by Gayatri Gopinath
This post is part of the GLBT Saints series by Kittredge Cherry at the Jesus in Love Blog. Saints, martyrs, mystics, prophets, witnesses, heroes, holy people, humanitarians, deities and religious figures of special interest to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) and queer people and our allies are covered on appropriate dates throughout the year.
KITTREDGE CHERRY is a lesbian Christian author who writes regularly about LGBT spirituality and the arts for the Jesus in Love Blog. She was ordained by Metropolitan Community Churches and served as its national ecumenical officer, advocating for LGBT rights at the National Council of Churches and World Council of Churches. She holds degrees in religion, journalism and art history. Her most recent book is The Passion of Christ: A Gay Vision. (Read IMPACT’s review of her book here).