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June 24, 2011
Homosexuality has never been a topic to debate in Pakistan, neither in media nor in public forums. A very few articles have been published on this issue, only in a few English language magazine, which has hardly a two per cent readership in all over the country.

This has been a taboo subject in Pakistan. There are signs in some areas the gay people are now becoming open in their behavior, but still it is not easy being gay or lesbian in Pakistan.

Homosexual acts are considered illegal and religious and cultural attitudes mean that many gay people are afraid to openly acknowledge their sexuality.

“No doubt there are a number of gay people in Pakistan. But a very few people are comfortable knowing a gay person. A normal family would disown him immediately. Pakistani society as a whole is anti-homosexuality”, here so how can it ever be acceptable in a conservative Muslim nation such as Pakistan?”, ”, Akhtar Hussein, a Karachi-based social worker told weekly Pulse.

Hussein thinks that the numbers of lesbians are very low in Pakistan.

“There is no official or unofficial survey about lesbians in Pakistan. Everything about them is based on hearsay”, he said.

Hussein says there is no open lesbian marriage, however there are reports that in the posh localities of Karachi , Islamabad , and Lahore , a small number of women belonging to elite class are living together as couples.

Metropolitan areas like Lahore, and Karachi have also seen a handful of “private” gay-men parties aimed at proclaiming their “gay pride”.

On October 6, 2005, a gay couple marriage report grabbed headlines in some English and Urdu language newspapers. According to the report, a 42-year-old Afghan refugee held a marriage ceremony with a local tribesman of 16 in the remote Khyber agency region bordering Afghanistan.

On hearing of the wedding, a tribal council told the pair to leave the area or be killed for breaking religious and tribal values and ethics.

A local Urdu-language newspaper said the elder man, named as Liaquat Ali, had taken a local boy called Markeen as “his male bride”.

The paper said the boy’s impoverished parents accepted 40,000 rupees (600 US dollars) for their son’s hand in marriage.

However, the report was denied by local tribal chiefs on October 7, 2005.

“Gay couples are living together in some of the big cities such as Karachi and Islamabad, but except this report, gay marriages remain unheard of”, Hussein said.

“Although gay or lesbian marriages remain a taboo subject, however homosexuality is relatively common in Pakistan ’s rural areas, says Dr Haider Rizvi, head of Psychology Department University of Karachi.

“People here are not ready to talk about homosexuality so they are certainly not ready to talk about gay rights, DR Rizvi said "They tell me it's a sin to be gay”.

“ Unlike West, homosexuality in Pakistan is not a matter of preference. It is more because of frustration. There are a handful of persons whom you can describe as gay. In most of the cases, these people are bisexual”, DR Rizvi said and added “ It’s the absence of natural sex (with woman) in a man's daily life which is because of the late marriages, which is the result of poor economic conditions and exaggeration of men’s and women’s demands vis-à-vis marriage”.

Dr Haider says that homosexuality is a common practice in prisons and among sailors too.

“They remain sway from their wives for years and months. There is no concept of the sexual rights of a prison in Pakistan. He can’t meet with his wife at a separate place. As a result he goes for an alternative to fulfill his sexual desire, and that is another man”, he maintained.

Homosexuality is an offence under Pakistan’s Penal Code (PCC), the law does not specifically refer to homosexuality

Pakistani law punishes sodomy with imprisonment ranging from two years to life. Some Islamic provisions prescribe 100 lashes for the act or even death by stoning.

Under section 377 of the PCC, whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which [shall not be less than two years nor more than] 10 years, and shall also be liable to a fine.

Various Pakistanis have used homosexuality to obtain visas of US and other European countries showing themselves as gay, and claiming that there life was in danger because of severe punishments.

Psychology: Those with deep-seated homosexual tendencies identify themselves as homosexual persons and are usually unwilling to examine their emotional conflicts that caused this tendency, Dr Rizvi thinks

“Strong physical attraction is present to other men's bodies and to the masculinity of others due to profound weakness in male confidence. These individuals in the childhood have a significant affective immaturity with excessive anger and jealousy toward males who are not homosexual, insecurity that leads them to avoid close friendships with such males and an inordinate need for attention”, he contended.

Dr Rizvi thinks that most of these men had painful adolescent experiences of significant loneliness and sadness, felt insecure in their masculinity, and had a poor body image.

“Well-designed research studies have demonstrated a much higher prevalence of psychiatric illness in those who identify themselves as homosexual. Under severe stress they may even experience strong physical and sexual attraction to adolescent males. Frequently, they may have difficulty working in a collegial and comfortable way with heterosexual males”, he said.

Those with mild homosexual tendencies do not identify themselves as homosexuals. Such men are motivated to understand and to overcome their emotional conflicts. They regularly seek psychotherapy and spiritual direction, Dr Rizvi observes.

“In my clinical experience those with deep-seated homosexual tendencies lack an understanding of the origins of their conflicts and of the possibility of healing. Many of these men also make a commitment to work on their emotional conflicts”, he said.

.RELIGION’S ROLE: Dr Rizvi believes that religion can play a powerful role to help a homosexual back to normal life.

“If our religious leaders eliminate the element of shame, inducing guilt and ridiculing the homosexuals then why not people come and confess. Unfortunately, a large number (do not have statistics) of religious leaders are not ready to even recognize this as an issue. If they play their role in order to help homosexuals back to normal life, that would save many from this sin”, he thought.

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