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eventsEmbracing love and equality in diversityUnder the Rainbow II at Goethe-Institut Bangladesh→ Mainul Hassan
Under the Rainbow II, a five-day festival being held at Goethe-Institut Bangladesh, is aimed at highlighting the cause of the homosexuals and transgender communities of the country. The festival is organised by Goethe-Institut Bangladesh in association with Boys of Bangladesh (BoB), Bandhu Social Welfare Society, Badhon Hijra Shangha and Shawprova. Almost invisible to the wider society due to fear and stigma, this community’s presence is a reality to which many often tend to turn a blind eye.
Selina Hossain (third from left) cuts the ribbon marking the inauguration of painting exhibition In Silence at Geothe-Institut on Sunday, along with Angela Gruenert (left), Hans Heinrich Schnelle (second from left) and Syeda Mahbuba Karim (right).
“The first festival Under the Rainbow I, organised in 2009 with Bandhu Social Welfare Society, turned out to be a successful event. The response we received was very positive,” said Angela Gruenert, director of Goethe-Institut, Bangladesh.
“At Goethe-Institut, we not only promote our culture and language, but we also uphold international values of equality. Everyone should have equal rights in the society, regardless of religion, ethnicity or sex,” she added.
Following the success of the first event, this year’s festival, inaugurated on 7 November, aims at achieving much more - telling the untold stories of the LGBT community in Bangladesh, their everyday life, hopes and dreams. The five-day long programme consists of discussions, film screenings, dance performances, performing art and raising awareness through painting and poster exhibition.
Hans Heinrich Schnelle, First Secretary of Development, Embassy of the Federal Republic of Germany in Bangladesh, inaugurated the festival at the Goethe-Institut compound in Dhanmondi on Sunday.
Germany has been one of the most progressive European nations on the issue of LGBT rights.
In Germany, the LGBT community enjoys the basic rights. They can choose to live together with their chosen partners or adopt children with necessary paperwork.
The social acceptance of the LGBT community in Germany did not happen overnight. It took a campaign of over 30 years, which began in early ‘70s, to reach its present state.
“There are examples and societies are here to develop themselves.” said Hans Heinrich Schnelle.
“Such events give them a chance to come and express themselves, which can contribute greatly in raising social awareness,” Heinrich added.
Kyrre Breakhus, Deputy Head of Mission, Royal Norwegian Embassy, Bangladesh, Shireen Huq, activist and senior member of Naripokkho, eminent author Selina Hossain and Angela Gruenert, director of Goethe-Institut, Bangladesh were present at the inauguration ceremony.
Following the opening, Selina Hossain inaugurated the painting exhibition In Silence, which is currently going on at the first floor of the institute. The exhibition features 18 paintings by Syeda Mahbuba Karim.
The colourful paintings, mostly done in oil and acrylic, reflect everyday life of the LGBT community. Shokhi, Feelings, Loneliness, Social Common Plights, Yellow Life, Friends – every painting tells a story of its own.
“In the art works, I have highlighted the issues related to basic rights of the women in society,” said Syeda Mahbuba Karim, the artist.
The poster awareness campaign Out in Dhaka features issues often faced by the LGBT community; the colourful posters are in display at the institute premises.
An interactive presentation Accept Diversity, End Discrimination was held on 8 November. Presented by BoB, it highlighted issues regarding the LGBT community with a combination of short videos, pictures and interactive sessions with the audience.
Two films - Love & Suicide by Mia Salsi and Call me Salma by Sebastien Rist and Aude Leroux-Levesque - were also shown at the venue.
Two films of Indian film-maker Sridhar Rangayan — 68 pages and Yours Emotionally will be screened today.
Goethe-Institut, Bangladesh has invited two German artists Angie Hiesl and Roland Kaiser, who have flown to Bangladesh to attend the festival. The artists will be taking part in a creative exchange and interactive session tomorrow, which will be followed by piano recital in combination with poetry by Shawprova and BoB.
The festival ends on 11 November with a fashion show and dance by Bandhu Social Welfare Society.
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