Mr. Mannan had tried to organize a march for gay and transgender youths in April 2016, but the police ordered it canceled after threats of violence and fears it could cause a religious backlash. Later in the month, Mr. Mannan and Mr. Tonoy were hacked to to death by a group of men who had posed as couriers to gain access to Mr. Mannan’s apartment complex. The men carried parcels containing machetes that the police said were used in the attacks.
An openly gay man in a conservative society where homosexual relations remain outlawed, Mr. Mannan started a Bangladeshi gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender magazine, Roopbaan, in 2014. Its vision statement read, “We envision a world the Bangladeshi LGBT+ community’s freedom to love is socially accepted and their human rights are guaranteed.” Mr. Mannan had also worked for the U.S. Agency for International Development.
“This verdict is a strong message for the militant group who are operational in Bangladesh,” said Golam Sharuar Khan Zakir, the public prosecutor in the case. “We are happy with the verdict. We believe that justice for Xulhaz and Tonoy is served.”
Khairul Islam, a lawyer for the defendants, said he would appeal the case and denied that the men belonged to a militant group.
Saif Hasnat reported from Dhaka, Bangladesh, and Suhasini Raj from Lucknow, India.