He gave the call at a discussion on transgender issues at Dhaka’s Daily Star Centre on Thursday.

The discussion organised by Bandhu Social Welfare Society and USAIDS consisted of several reporters, police, government and NGO officials, lawyers, teachers, religious leaders and transgender community representatives.

“We have a negative perception of the transgender people. We do not have information about you,” he told the transgender community leaders.

The ‘hijra’ (transgender) leaders brought to light many issues including social stigma, discrimination, isolation and lack of basic human rights.

The mayor also requested the families to support their transgender children, “If 50 fathers stand by their children, the society is bound to change.”

The recent issues of ‘fake’ hijra incidents and hijras extorting money and engaging in sex work, public nuisance and mayhem were also discussed in the meeting.

The NGO representatives working for the community said, local gangsters force  hijras into such activities.

Anonnya Banik, a community leader said, “Several generations of this community have died facing discrimination. Please let us work, we will prove our worth.”

Another Hijra leader said that the circumstances do not allow them to disclose their family’s identity, although they all came from good families and the family members still live in the same town.

Mayor Huq assured to arrange a conference of employers to sensitize them about hiring the transgenders at offices.

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People from the transgender community have interest and potential to work as office support staff, small business owners, beauty parlour employees, drivers, computer operators, garments workers, professional dancers and ramp models, said their leaders.
BSWS showed a presentation on Gender Diversity and Health Care Factors that explained issues including hijras being vulnerable to HIV virus and sexually transmitted diseases, community achievements, needs and way forward.
According to their data, 4143 HIV cases of this community have been found in Bangladesh till 2015.
Two hijras participated in the 2015 municipality polls as counsellor candidates, although they had to identify themselves as female, read the presentation.
The NGO, working for sexual minorities, has also initiated several programs for the community including capacity building trainings and a 24/7 legal helpline.