Global Human Rights Defence (GHRD) interacted with little boxes, a Human Rights Defender (HRD) from Boys of Bangladesh (BoB) to discuss the legal and political developments in Bangladesh and its effect on the rights of sexual minorities. BoB is an unregistered organization which works for the rights of sexual minorities in Bangladesh.

Freedom of speech and expression is being trampled upon in Bangladesh, particularly in light of Section 57 of the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Act 2006. Under Section 57, intentionally posting false, provocative, indecent or sensitive information on websites or any electronic platforms that is defamatory, and can disrupt the country’s law and order situation, or hurt religious sentiments, is a punishable offence. The criminal act is punishable with a maximum penalty of 14 years imprisonment and a fine of 1 crore Taka.

Therefore, any person updating a status on social media, writing a blog, or running a news portal therefore could be in violation of this section. Section 57 also allows a third party to file a case against a person in violation of it, meaning in essence anyone may file a case against a Facebook page or blog if they feel like the content has even a remote possibility of hurting or upsetting religious sentiments. The is routinely used to suppress freedom of speech and harass writers, activists, and journalists – often for their comments on social media.

 

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