Bangladesh: Third gender hijra groups hold country’s first ever Pride march

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At least 1,000 transgender hijras led Bangladesh’s first ever Pride march on Monday, marking one year since the government recognised them as a third gender.

Last November, in a landmark decision, the government in Bangladesh approved a proposal of the social welfare ministry to identify “Hijra” as a third possible gender identity.

Hijra, often subsumed under the trans umbrella in the West, is a South Asian feminine gender identity. It is sometimes – but not always – adopted by intersex people.

The Pride event, which took place in Dhaka, featured numerous groups wearing colourful saris and carrying banners which read: “The days of stigma, discrimination and fear are over”.

Sonali, a 25-year-old hijra, told AFP: “I never dreamt that I would see this day in my life.

“We are stigmatised everywhere. We are discriminated against. We are laughed at just because we do not feel like a man or woman. But today is different. We feel like we’re normal human beings.”

Pakistan allowed hijra a third gender category back in 2011.

In September last year, gay rights groups criticised the government in Bangladesh for refusing to decriminalise same-sex relationships, despite recommendations by the United Nations to do so.