Pakistani Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Seek Rudimentary Privileges

Written by Malik Ayub Sumbal on Friday, 09 September 2011. Posted in Opinion, Malik Ayub Sumbal

Ambassador Richard E. Hoagland shakes hands with guests to the  GLBT Pride event.

Islamabad — Social networking sites and bloggers are helping gays and lesbians in Pakistan to interact despite strict religious and cultural limitations. Homosexuality is viewed as a sin and is firmly ostracized in this part of the world.

The religious pundits and the society at large ignore even the existence of these homosexuals in Pakistan and are reluctant to give them rudimentary privileges and freedom of expression.

In June, the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad hosted the first gay, lesbian and transgender pride ceremony to be held in the country. In attendance were the leaders of Pakistani LGBT advocacy groups. Addressing the gathering, according to an embassy press release, Ambassador Richard E. Hoagland “underscored President Obama’s May 31, 2011 GLBT Pride Proclamation that, ‘we rededicate ourselves to the pursuit of equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.’”

The event was heavily criticized by the country’s political and religious parties, but the event nonetheless exposed the mass existence of homosexuals in Pakistan.

The huge crowd of the gays and lesbians from the Pakistani homosexual community surprised even the organizers of the event by showing their enthusiasm and interest in this ceremony.

Pakistani gays and lesbians are optimistic for a reconfiguration of the law and for formal legislation that will protect the Pakistani homosexual society. They have been encouraged by the support from the United States.

More Pakistani girls and boys are turning towards homosexuality in Islamabad and in other parts of the country despite the strict religious, cultural and ethical restrictions on them.

Members of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) society are well connected with social networking sites like Facebook and other websites using them to establish relationships.

Popular websites used by gays and lesbians in Islamabad include www.gay-datanta.com/gy/gay/islamabad and www.atomicboards.com/board.pl?user=gayasia&sid=&board=5271&mode=&action=&lasta=&last=&who=. Users leave their contact information on the sites in hopes of meeting new partners. The sites are also used to establish sexual orientation. Others use Facebook communities for similar purposes.

Talking to a many and gays and lesbians reveals that the LGBT community is under immense pressure in Pakistan and facing strong opposition from all schools of thought as the society is reluctant to accept the reality of their lifestyles.

A majority of the gays and lesbians who use websites like Facebook and others to find sexual partners have used fake IDs because of the fear that their identities will be exposed in a society where survival is not possible in many cases for those who are openly gay.

Demoralized, gays and lesbians in Pakistan request legislation and defense of their privileges as in other nations where lesbian, gay, and transgender (LGBT) people have rights.

Muhammad Usman, a gay man in Islamabad, described the difficulty of life for those in the Pakistani gay community. “Its really hard and anxious to be gay in Pakistan as it is appalling and shameful to proceed in this society, and one cannot think to be a gay whether he is or not but we have to disguise our sexual orientations,” Usman told me.

He said that in a society like Pakistan it is taboo issue even to talk about the rights of gays and lesbians. Usman also attended the gay and lesbian conference organized by the United States embassy in Islamabad. He said that more than 1,000 gays and lesbians had attended this gathering.

Usman said that the conference was the first event of its nature in the annals of Pakistan and it’s a decisive boost for the homosexual community in Pakistan, providing a platform for them to raise their voices in unison.

Saima Jabeen is a lesbian residing at a girl hostel in Islamabad who I was able to contact via Facebook. She said: “It is very odd to introduce me as a lesbian but the reality is that I am and I should not disguise my sexual orientation.” She said that there are growing numbers of girls in Pakistan who are embracing homosexuality.

Asked about how she felt about criticism that homosexuality is unnatural, she responded: While questioning Jabeen about the homosexual as a unnatural demeanor she said, “When I gain more pleasure with a girl rather than a male partner then why should I choose a male? When my female partner agrees and we are doing this act after a mutual understanding then there should not be problem for the society or any one else.”

In Pakistan there are growing numbers of young men and women who identify themselves as homosexuals, who consider their orientation to be natural and who believe their sexual orientation is a personal preference and an individual right.

Collectively, the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in Pakistan is seeking basic rights in Pakistani society, and a major issue is the security from devout extremists who are not ready to accept an individual’s choice of homosexuality.

About the Author

Malik Ayub Sumbal

Malik Ayub Sumbal

Malik Ayub Sumbal is South Asian bureau chief for American Daily Herald. A senior freelance investigative journalist in Islamabad, Pakistan, his work has appeared in numerous international newspapers and magazines, including the Asia Times online and the World Tribune and he has contributed to the European Journalism Center and the Asian Human Rights Commission.

Copyright © Malik Ayub Sumbal. Used with Permission.

Comments (3)

  • Ahsan

    Ahsan

    14 July 2012 at 05:04 |
    This article is fairly an exaguartion and an absolute propeganda. I meet Pakistanis every day. from every corner of Pakistan. Fact is people even feel gross and disgusting to even talk about it. Its simply to weak the nation to let them involve in such disgusting things to talk about so they forget the major issues.
  • alifmeem

    alifmeem

    03 April 2012 at 04:11 |
    the right of choosing sex orientation is a matter of personal right and this many not be condemned by the society or religious pundit.
  • alifmeem

    alifmeem

    03 April 2012 at 04:09 |
    The orientation of sex or chemistry match is a natural phenomena and lesbian gay transgender should not be condemned as a whole as it comes under personal rights.

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