Gay rights groups have criticised the government in Bangladesh for refusing to decriminalise gay relationships, despite recommendations by the United Nations to do so.

The Bangladeshi Government on Friday accepted 164 of 196 recommendations by the UN following a session of the Human Rights Council’s Universal Periodic Review.

One of the recommendations not accepted however, was to abolish Section 377 of the national penal code criminalising consensual same-sex relationships.

Following the meeting, a UN summary read that Abdul Hannan, a Permanent Representative of Bangladesh to the UN Office in Geneva, had told the council that his country would not accept any recommendations conflicting with “constitutional and legal provisions”, or “socio-cultural values of the country”.

Representing the gay rights group Boys of Bangladesh was Tanvir Alim, who said: “We regret that the government has rejected [the] recommendation to abolish Section 377 which criminalises consensual same-sex relationships.

“The government already has an extensive HIV/AIDS program including men who have sex with men. This rejection indicates that it’s just to avoid acknowledging human rights violations of sexual and gender minorities.”

Section 377 is a hangover from British imperialism, and is still reflected in the national penal codes of many former colonies. Despite this, neighbouring countries India and Nepal have both repealed the clause.