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Suicide of Gay Bengali Actress Sheds Light on Homophobia in Asia

Bengali actress Disha Ganguly, known for her role in the popular sitcom Tumi Ashbey Bole, committed suicide on April 9. Her boyfriend found her body hanging in her house. Officials believe she committed suicide due to social pressures regarding her lesbian relationship with another actress. Her death showcases the harsh treatment of LGBT people in Asia.

“A few months back, this actress friend of Ganguly, started staying at her apartment,” explained one police official. “Soon, Ganguly’s mother arrived from Nairobi (where her parents reside) and objected to their relationship. Her mother even got her friend to move out of the apartment.”

Ganguly was engaged to Vivaan Ghosh, a fellow actor, at the time this second relationship allegedly began. Her parents pushed her to accept his marriage proposal. With pressure from her parents, boyfriend, and girlfriend, police believe “she gave in to death.” After her actress friend found out about Ganguly’s suicide, she attempted to throw herself in front of a train. The locals saved her and she is currently in the hospital.

Homosexual acts are illegal in 78 countries, including Bangladesh and India. In December 2014, a survey found that 59% of the gays in Bangladesh live in fear of being outed. These laws force LGBT people to leave their families and countries.

Joleen, a Singapore native now known as Joe Wong, was beaten and forced into therapy by her family. She eventually escaped and changed into a man in Bangkok. Joe is now working with the Asia-Pacific Transgender Network rights group.

“I’ve never been more at home than now, even though I’m not at home,” he claimed. “I removed everything that was bringing me down. I removed the toxic people in my life. Now it’s just me and my problems that I have to confront,” said Wong, who did not identify the abusive relative to avoid further straining family ties, “I feel really liberated.”

Priya Vedi, a doctor in India, slit her wrists in a hotel room after she wrote a suicide note on Facebook, which was shared more than 3,500 times. From India Today:

She accused her husband of mentally torturing her after she learnt that he was gay. In a four-page suicide note, Priya Vedi mentioned that failed marriage, breach of trust and hiding of the sexual orientation by her husband were the reasons behind this extreme step.

A suicide note found in the Paharganj hotel room where Priya Vedi was discovered dead and a similar Facebook post by her on Saturday afternoon revealed that her husband’s sexual orientation had led to the souring of the relationship.

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