You don’t have to celebrate homosexuality, but please don’t be a homophobe

Published: June 30, 2014
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but let me reassure you Hamza Ali Abbasi, just by telling your 12-year-old nephew what gay is will not magically change his sexual orientation.

The landmark Supreme Court judgment was definitely not going to go unnoticed in Pakistan. It was obvious that it was going to get widespread support in Pakistan as well. I was surprised to even see a few people drape their profile pictures in the rainbow colours in unity. However, the copious amounts of vitriol directed towards those people were vastly unwarranted and totally unnecessary.

Nobody is requiring every single person in the world to celebrate pride but there is no reason to berate people doing so. You are free to express yourself but your freedom of speech does not extend to having a right to opinion, asking for other people to die. Freedom of speech is almost always subservient to the freedom of life and liberty.

Neither do you have to necessarily belong to the community to support their cause. I can support the Black civil rights movement, even though they are not Muslim or follow Muslim practices. Similarly, I can realise the struggle of the LGBTQ movement and choose to celebrate a day where the members of those community were granted legal equality.

These people have suffered massive amounts of persecution for centuries, all for the right to freely love who they want to and to be legally recognised for doing so, to enjoy all legal benefits that are enjoyed by any other couple.

It may not be religiously permitted in Islam but neither is consuming alcohol or charging interest. Why is nobody crying out on Facebook that every single person in the world supporting the banking system deserves to die or that the United States of America will be doomed because consuming alcohol is legal there?

Why is all our hate focused towards a clearly marginalised group of people? People who clearly don’t have a choice, who are biologically wired to be who they are and who only want the right to live as who they are. How can we deem any behaviour to be natural, normative or normal? If God chose to create somebody a certain way, who are we to question God?

Rather than predicting doom and gloom, let’s practice humility and realise that none of us know better than God. I missed the Game of Thrones episode where Hamza Ali Abbasi was denoted to be the high septum of Pakistan but his comparison of homosexuality and incest is completely unfounded. I do not support or celebrate incest, but incest was essential to create humanity. No rule is absolute, therefore, we should be careful before presuming to speak on behalf of God.

Humility would mean that anytime we are faced with the choice to choose between choosing to love and choosing to hate, we should always opt for love. Unfortunately, the amount of hate in Pakistan has sky rocketed over the past few years. There are rallies against the celebration of festivals; everything is declared haram (forbidden) in the name of religion, without realising that Islam is an inclusive religion. It is a religion of peace and acceptance, not militarism.

Our resistance comes simply from homophobia, but let me reassure you Hamza Ali Abbasi, just by telling your 12-year-old nephew what gay is will not magically change his sexual orientation. We need to be less insecure about our heterosexuality. If you think that this is the normative behavioural practice, then why do you fear telling people what gay is?

Putting up rainbow flags does not spread homosexuality and this is not a global conspiracy to make people gay. It is a practice as old as time itself. It has been accepted in many cultures throughout history. What is recent though, is homophobia.

Homophobia is not even intrinsic to our region or culture.

There was an acceptance of the practice in the subcontinent before the advent of the British and Christian missionaries. Cross-dressing has been practiced for ages in the Indian subcontinent and hijras (transgender people) have been revered historically.  We were historically more progressive and accepting than the West, but colonialism set us back centuries and we are still grappling with the post-colonial mind-set.

You don’t have to be a homosexual, you do not have to even celebrate homosexuality, but please don’t be a homophobe. Realise that there are other people in the world different than you, and that is completely alright.

#LoveWins does not mean everyone has to engage in the same kind of love. Whatever you think love is, practice that, practice it freely and do not let haters bring you down.

shehzad.ghias

Shehzad Ghias

A graduate from the LUMS Law School and is running his own theatre production company, Cogito Productions.He works as a theatre teacher at various schools. He tweets @Shehzad89 (twitter.com/Shehzad89)

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