Roopbaan is a Bangladeshi non-profit, non-partisan, volunteer-based platform for LGBT individuals and their allies. It works to raise awareness about Bangladeshis who represent sexual and gender diversity, and advocate for their human right to love.
The name ‘Roopbaan’ is derived from a popular Bengali folk character which also means a beautiful and fabulous person. Roopbaan, as it was conceptualized initially, is the first Bangladeshi printed magazine on the topic of gender and sexual diversity; freedom to love in other words.
Against all odds, the magazine was launched on January 18, 2014, in Dhaka, Bangladesh. The goal of the magazine was to create a safe space where a mostly silent minority group in Bangladesh can express themselves without harassment. Roopbaan, the literary publication soon became the most visible LGBT venture in Bangladesh. As the publication process started to engage more people, Roopbaan eventually remodeled itself as a community-based platform in January 2015.
Roopbaan, as a platform, organized multiple cultural and community empowerment events. Roopbaan acknowledges that there are LGBT individuals in Bangladesh like any other societies in the world and they can not be discriminated against their undeniable human right to love.
We envision a world the Bangladeshi LGBT+ community’s freedom to love is socially accepted and their human rights are guaranteed.
We are not alone. We have ourselves. We believe that we must come together as a community, build strong networks, and create platforms to voice important issues relevant to the advancement of the Bangladeshi LGBT+ community. Through raising awareness about sexual and gender identities within the LGBT+ community and in the public sphere, we want to eradicate homophobia and the taboo against diverse genders and sexualities.
Message from Coordinating Committee
Roopbaan is a historical achievement for the LGBT+ community in Bangladesh. In 2014, Roopbaan began its fight for the rights and inclusion of the LGBT+ community in Bangladesh. We organized community events, created safe spaces for gender and sexual minority people, published marginalized voices, and organized rallies. We were targeted for our visibility. In 2016, Roopbaan’s co-founders (Xulhaz Mannan) and founding general secretary (K Mahbub Rabbi Tonoy) were assassinated inside Mannan’s home. The gruesome incident devastated the LGBT+ community. Many LGBT+ activists were forced to relocate for their own safety, leaving behind a vacuum within LGBT+ organizing in Bangladesh. Of course, Roopbaan was not the only group that was organizing around LGBT+ issues. Braving the sheer danger, particularly after the 2016 incident, many beautiful souls have continued the task of organizing their communities and we express our solidarity with the entire spectrum of struggles for the rights and acceptance of gender and sexual minorities in Bangladesh. At our end, we are continuing to experiment with our work while building on the legacy of Mannan and Tonoy. We face enormous challenges and we have decided to move slow yet steady. Our current coordinating committee members include new members as well as founding members of Roopbaan who are based in Bangladesh as well as outside the country. For all Bangladeshi LGBT+ people in Bangladesh and around the world, and all LGBT+ people struggling against injustice, we want to loudly proclaim: We love you!