DHAKA (AFP) - Bangladesh's gay community has launched its first magazine in a bid to promote greater acceptance of homosexuals who face widespread discrimination in the conservative Muslim-majority country, its editor said on Sunday.
The 56-page glossy magazine called Roopbaan was officially launched in the capital Dhaka late on Saturday at an invitation-only event that included leading members of the gay community and human rights activists.
"It's a giant leap forward for the country's LGBT people," Roopbaan editor Rasel Ahmed told AFP, referring to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people.
"We hope it'll raise awareness about the community and will lead to wider social tolerance of the gays and lesbians here," Mr Ahmed, 25, said, adding that he hoped the magazine's stories about issues impacting gay people would increase understanding.
Gays and lesbians suffer discrimination and other human rights abuses in Bangladesh where sex between people of the same gender is punishable by up to life in prison.
Many gays and lesbians are forced to hide their sexual identity and live double lives for fear of reprisals in the country, which is 90 per cent Muslim and deeply conservative.
Mr Ahmed said the magazine, which plans to publish quarterly, will not be available on street newsstands, for fear of inflaming tensions and sparking a backlash against the gay community.
Instead Roopbaan - the name of a Bengali fairytale of a beautiful young girl married to a boy - will be available through phone orders.