GREAT EMPIRES may come and go, but, like the tides, they leave behind a tangled assortment of treasures and trash. In the case of the British Empire, this included much that one might admire, but also a British Protestant morality that was codified in laws that persist to this day. Section 377 of the colonial Penal Code is a striking example. It classed consensual oral and anal sex as “carnal intercourse against the order of nature” and made it a crime punishable with imprisonment for life. When the British administrators withdrew, they took their soldiers, but left their law books behind. Section 377 was recently repealed in India, but it is still very much on the books in Bangladesh.
Prosecutions under Section 377 are extremely rare, so it does not impair Bangladesh’s moderate image in the world.