Ansar-al Islam, the Bangladeshi branch of al-Qaeda on the Indian subcontinent, or AQIS, has claimed responsibility for the brutal murder of gay rights activist Xulhaz Mannan and his friend, theatre actor Tanay Majumder.

It said the two were killed because they were “pioneers of practising and promoting homosexuality in Bangladesh” and were “working day and night to promote homosexuality … with the help of their masters, the US crusaders and its Indian allies.”

Mannan, a cousin of former Foreign Minister Dipu Moni, was also an editor of Bangladesh’s first gay rights magazine, Roopbaan.

Mannan had written openly about the frustration of living “in the closet” as a gay man in Bangladesh, where homosexual relations are considered a crime.

In a May 2014 blog post, he said gays and lesbians in Bangladesh experience “a country where the predominant religions say you are a sinner, the law of the land says you are a criminal, the social norms say you are a pervert, the culture considers you as imported.”

The attack involved at least five men who posed as courier service employees to gain access to Mannan’s apartment building.

No arrests have yet been made.

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