If you’re gay and living in Pakistan, you’re life is at best intolerable and at worst in danger. In a country where the law does nothing to protect the basic human rights of a very vulnerable community, keeping silent will only prolong injustice

 

Recently I watched BBC Three’s documentary, How gay is Pakistan? Now I watched it for two reasons: one, 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 has to go through, is the ridiculous idea that being gay is an illness and therefore that there are ways in which one can cure being ‘gay’.

There are apparently 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 a 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 on to 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 and a certain lifestyle that many have adopted. Nevertheless, it is at times, morally coherent to attend to a human being’s needs and wants before anything and above everything else. 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. The fact that there are a number of people in Pakistan who genuinely believe that by murdering a population whose lifestyle may differ from their own will grant them a 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 of people 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 or 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 varied denominations of minority communities; it is a place which could scream diversity and a sense of belonging, but for many this isn’t the case. It is, realistically, a place where being different means being shunned by 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 so they can be who they are, and to be accepted. It is time we learn to accept differences and prevent intolerance.