Recently I watched BBC Three’s documentary called “How gay is Pakistan?” Now I watched it for two reasons: one, that I was intrigued to see what it would entail and two, I really wanted to know the answer. It is definitely shocking to say the least, since aspects of Pakistan, you wouldn’t traditionally see or be exposed to, are brought to light.
After watching the hour long documentary, I was left feeling disgusted, heartbroken and with a burning passion to get up and do something to make a difference. One of the most appalling examples of what the Pakistani LGBT community have to go through is, the ridiculous idea that being gay is an illness, and therefore there are ways in which one can cure being gay. There are physical treatments available, which can somehow, magically turn a homosexual into a heterosexual. What the people in Pakistan do not seem to understand is the fact that being gay is not choice, now I’m not going to generalise and say that it is the entirety of Pakistan who feel this way, however there is definitely a large proportion of people willing to brutally murder members of the gay community in order to secure their place in ‘paradise’. Which brings me onto my next point, the idea of religion vs basic human rights; for the majority of the population living in the busiest city Karachi, there are clear, straight and simple religious ideals to follow, which for some include abolishing the gay community or behaving in a way which makes them feel completely insignificant and alienated in society.
I am not one to dismiss religion, it is a part of, what has been for many years, a way of living, a certain lifestyle that many have adopted- nevertheless, it is at times, coherent to see to a human being’s needs and wants before anything, and above everything. Being a respectable, dedicated and religious person does not correlate with the idea of committing manslaughter, so that we can meet the ‘so-called’ expectations of God. To acknowledge the fact that there is a number of people in Pakistan, who genuinely believe that by murdering a population, whose lifestyles may vary to their own, they will achieve their place in Heaven, is unspeakable. I’m certain that the creator of life and existence would not be pleased with His creations taking away each other’s lives.
The documentary stated that only a small proportion, in Pakistan, believe that there should be gay rights, which is absurd when taking into account the large number of ‘hidden’ LGBT communities present in the country. (There is also a large population of trans people, who do not have access to fundamental rights.) In Pakistan’s official law books, it is stated that rape is only valid if it is committed between a man and a woman, instantly neglecting any acts of rape solely between men or solely between women. There could be thousands of trans people who have been sexually assaulted by a man, but they are unable to report it, send their offender to prison or, in fact do anything about the heinous act committed towards them, since in the authority’s eyes, it isn’t rape.
Pakistan is a place bursting with vibrant and various denominations of minority communities; it is a place which could scream diversity and a sense of belonging, but for most it isn’t, it is a place where being different means being shunned from your family and being treated as if you have a deadly, incurable disease. This has to change. There are people dying, fighting for what they believe in- to be who they are, and to be accepted, it is time we learn to accept and end the intolerance.