Read about heroic leaders that gave their lives for LGBT+ acceptance in Bangladesh

Xulhaz Mannan

Xulhaz Mannan was a Bangladeshi community leader, organizer, and LGBT+ human rights, activist. In addition to his advocacy, Xulhaz was the co-founder and publisher of Roopbaan, the first and only Bangladeshi LGBT+ magazine. Against all odds, the magazine was first published on January 18, 2014.

The same year as Roopbaan, Xulhaz conceptualized Roopbaan Rainbow Rally that aimed towards celebrating friendship, love, and diversity. Every year on April 14, all Bangladeshis celebrate the Bengali new year. Xulhaz organized a human-made Rainbow Rally in the capital city of Dhaka to celebrate a more inclusive Bengali new year. He dedicated the next two years to organizing and empowering the LGBT+ community.

Xulhaz organized an LGBT+ film festival, LGBT+ youth leadership program, and health campaign. He also launched a queer poetry book and held a transgender/transvestite fashion show. In addition to these major events, he hosted countless smaller community events, and his house provided a safe space for the LGBT+ community to thrive.

Xulhaz Mannan was murdered by extremists on April 25, 2016, along with K Mahbub Rabbi (Tonoy).

K Mahabub Rabbi (Tonoy)

K Mahbub Rabbi (Tonoy) was a brave, young activist who was brutally murdered by extremists on April 25, 2016, along with Xulhaz Mannan.

Tonoy was a young man of many talents. He was part of a theatre troupe and a trained singer and dancer. Starting as a volunteer in 2013 with the Boys of Bangladesh, a self-identified gay male advocacy platform, Tonoy joined and became the first General Secretary of Roopbaan in February 2015.

Tonoy believed in using art for social change. His theater background was reflected in the advocacy work he did. One of his famous pictures from the Roopbaan Rainbow Rally became the face of Roopbaan in Bangladesh. He helped organize various cultural events and constantly worked towards community mobilization.

In a short span of time, Tonoy was able to help conduct the first-ever LGB community survey in Bangladesh in 2014 and organized the much talked about Roopbaan Rainbow Rally. He also contributed towards the publication of Roopongti, a poetry collection on same-sex love and founded an online LGBT+ movie group, MDSS Cine Club.