To Pakistani media: Stop spouting homophobic hatred

Published: May 30, 2011
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The News report "Homosexuality, emerging threat to health, norms in Pakistan" reeks of bigotry, colossal ignorance.

Right from the outset, I want to state in no uncertain terms that homophobia infuriates me to no end. Whether or not one agrees, it is a natural proclivity and/or a conscious choice, the state has no business regulating sexual expression and practice between consenting adults. There are far more pressing matters for the government to spend its budget on than policing what people do in private.

Having said that, I understand that lawmakers in Pakistan will not remedy homophobic laws because the majority of the citizens would oppose such a move. I’m not naïve enough to believe we’ll follow suit on the precedent set by Delhi last year when it de-criminalised sodomy by reversing bigoted laws set by the British colonials. Not any time soon at least.

But what excuse does the so-called independent and free English media have for spouting such hatred?

The problem is not that there are people who are anti-homosexuality; there is enough literature to enrich such a debate, theocratic or otherwise. I can even concede, hesitantly, that it is entirely rational to be opposed to homosexuality if one follows Islam strictly. Literal interpretations of the scripture would demand such a blanket disagreement with acceptance of homosexuality.

The problem is when journalists and medical doctors get their facts blatantly wrong, twist conclusions, conflate several issues and misrepresent a correlation completely. In a country where personal freedoms are easily violated, especially if the suspect is poor and voiceless, this is downright criminal.

The piece I’m referring to appeared in The News recently and quoted a certain Dr Abrar Umar. Right from the first line, it is reeks with bigotry:

“Homosexuality is fast spreading in the country putting health and social norms at stake and if the issue is not duly addressed, the situation may lead to the epidemic of AIDS. In an ethnographic study of men who have sex with men (MSM) in twin cities, a public health professional working on prevention of AIDS and Assistant Professor of Community Medicine in Islamabad Medical College Dr Abrar Umar alarmed that homosexuality, if not duly addressed may lead to the epidemic of AIDS.”

Let me spell it out for you: homosexuality does not lead to AIDS.

Having unprotected sex increases the risk to sexual infections as serious as AIDS. This is a perfect example of when correlation does not mean causation. It is a well-documented fact all over the world that by itself, the act of two men having sex does not increase the risk of becoming HIV positive. Having sex without adequate protection, however, will lead to an increase risk of contracting diseases whether you have sex with a man or a woman.

Betraying colossal ignorance of basic facts about human biology, the writer states:

“Like other parts of the country, the homosexuals are multiplying in twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi.”

Newsflash: it is physically impossible for gay men to multiply as they cannot get pregnant or give birth.

Heterosexual reproduction is what one means by multiplying. If the writer is upset about the alarming rate of population growth, I’m with him. Lord knows we need fewer bigots around us.

Although the numbers are disputed, several studies suggest that approximately five per cent of the population in any place is gay. Evidence of that is reproducible with a simple Google search. A study done at the UCLA just last month indicates that an estimated 3.5 per cent of adults in the United States identify as lesbian, gay, or bisexual. Moreover, an estimated 8.2 per cent report that they have engaged in same-sex sexual behaviour and nearly 11 per cent acknowledge at least some same-sex sexual attraction.

This means that at the very least, one person out of every twenty people you know is likely to be a gay dude or a lesbian and you can do nothing to change that.

While condemnation of, and discrimination towards gay people is fairly recent in history, there is plenty of recorded evidence of acknowledgement, acceptance and even appreciation of homosexual behaviour in every civilization in history – each and every society, be it the Ottomans or the Romans.  It is by no means a new “phenomenon” that requires immediate redress and recourse.

If it is still not obvious, let me clarify by saying gay people exist under every religion, regime, reign and renaissance. I apologise for sounding like I’m talking to a four-year-old but the article in The News beseeches such condescension.

I can try and ignore the horrendously biased language used in the piece:

“For example: In Islamabad, many fashion and production houses are “stormed” with gays and homos in closet.” (Emphasis is my own)

But what gets me foaming at the mouth in anger, is when it casually discloses popular locations where gay people allegedly meet and socialise.

Do we really need to endanger people who are already deeply marginalised and forced to be closeted because of the potential shame and brutal violence they can face on the streets?

It is because of this moral and social policing those gay men cannot be open about their activities. And if you haven’t made the connection already, it is because of this forced seclusion they do not have access to adequate protection and are at a much higher risk of getting infected. If safe sex could be appropriately discussed and addressed, many of these diseases could be tackled in the professional and ethical manner they deserve to be treated with.

“Rape, theft, drug trafficking and blackmailing are also associated with the phenomenon.”

Just like they are connected with most marginalized groups. And I repeat, it is not a “phenomenon!”

Did all editors at The News just blindly approve this? Who fact-checked this piece?

More conflation of different terms follows in the piece:

“To a query, Dr Abrar said that about 80 per cent of Haijras (eunuchs) are basically gays who have turned into Haijra identity for better acceptance in the society.”

While it is true that some men resort to cross-dressing and queer gender performance to escape social exclusion and physical violence, hijras and khwaja-siras have somewhat, more social acceptance in Pakistan while having zero economic acceptance. This is not the case for many gay people who either don’t want to or can’t just adorn various identities. This also profoundly confuses the umbrella term of ‘trans’ which includes far more gender and sexual variation than just castrated men. In short, anyone who doesn’t identify with the gender or sex (two very different terms meaning two very different things) they were born with is ‘trans.’ And ‘trans’ is an adjective just like beautiful is. Not a noun like man or woman. But I digress.

Just when I’m about to give up completely, there is some acknowledgment of the actual issues.

“Poverty, broken families, uneducated parents, absence of sex education and drug addiction drag the children to unprotected environment outside the family.

He, however, added that to have a better analysis of MSM we have to be very specific about their gay and other identities. There is a marked behavioural difference between the two. All the gay subjects in the study except one who is considered fake gay by the others have strong perception that they are gays by birth.

Dr Abrar said that the study reveals that most of the MSM are blackmailed and threatened by the police. Due to insecurity, many MSM enter the transgender while some of them get castrated. The gay segment of MSM faces a lot of pressure from family and the gays who marry are victims of marital disharmony thus problems are replicated.

He added that general rejection by the society and insulting behaviour of the general people put MSM into isolation. Due to homosexuality being a taboo in society and stigma associated with it, MSM are reluctant to go to physician and tell the right history of the ailment. Eventually they cannot get right and in-time treatment, he said and added that most of the MSM are living at high risk of having sexually transmitted diseases especially AIDS. Preventive measures are generally not being practiced by them in spite of awareness among them, said Dr Abrar.”

Yes! Finally! Issues and problems we really need to talk about!

This piece had the potential to discuss serious concerns faced by the gay community in an objective way. Except, it flushed all hope down the toilet with its undisguised homophobia, deliberate dishonesty in how the facts were presented and a total disregard for privacy concerns of its subject. It turned out to be nothing more than a space for violent condemnation of gay men with unwarranted paranoia and supreme hypocrisy.

Well done Dr Abrar Umar and The News for allowing and supporting such bigotry in the most unethical way possible.

This post was originally published here.

Rabayl

Rabayl

The author wishes to remain anonymous

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • M Ali Khan

    Instead of people panicking and going on a ‘gay-bashing’ rant like some Jamaati on cocaine, the media should tackle real issues like STDs and urge usage of contraception to educate the masses and make them safer in the privacy of their own personal lives.Recommend

  • Happy Man

    Gay Liberation? I ain’t against it, it’s just that there’s nothing in it for me.Recommend

  • ft

    well done! highly appreciated. i hate how our people are willing to condemn anything that’s strange to them without even bothering to learn the abc about it.Recommend

  • http://www.kidvai.blogspot.com/ zakintosh

    Rabayl – I am glad you have tackled the idiotic piece that The News had published (why it did so, I don’t know).

    Homophobia is intrinsic in many people because it has been tracked down to religious teachings in the Abrahamic faiths. However, Jews and Christians are turning away from the route their books have taken because they realize that it is the old groups who wrote those texts and put their own ideas into them. A twist here, a rant there, and you have a very homophobic thing turned into ‘religious’ text.

    In Pakistan (and other Muslim countries) this is going to be difficult to fight: All Muslims believe that the Qur’an is the word of God. Therefore everything it says is true. However, many Muslim preachers in UK and USA are beginning to see that the ‘interpretation’ of these verses is either wrong or written in a way to make it almost impossible to change. Some of them will bring out new interpretations, soon. Perhaps a few of the followers will accept those views and we’ll have a ‘war of ideas’. But you’ll have to wait for a long long time …Recommend

  • http://[email protected] marYam

    what about our deen Islam?Recommend

  • Bilawal

    Lady,find the real issues in our society please. You pointing fingers at the news team is helping nobody’s cause. Even highlighting this would further pollute our ignorant public’s minds.Recommend

  • CB Guy

    So Islam does not allow it but since you support it, it should be legalized ahead of say 99% of the society and more importantly against our Deen? The judge who legalized sodomy in India has harmed India, much more then any politician or enemy has ever done to India. Recommend

  • Iffo

    “Let me spell it out for you: homosexuality does not lead to AIDS”
    so Is ur message in-support for homosexuality or against it???
    U are criticizing Dr Abrar Umar who is a well educated Dr.. And you are just a writer or analyst to ur minimum level!
    In Islam, Same sex intercourse is more big sin then “zina” it is a ” Gunah Kabira;zina also.

    Follow Islam and get rid off these things..
    Teachers and parents must be strickly concern about it if they are’nt then there shud be a strick law!
    But better way to Follow Islam and also punish those involvers.Recommend

  • Musa

    Good job Rabayl. I was thinking of addressing the issue too, but you’ve done a perfectly fine job at it.
    :)Recommend

  • Sophia

    @Iffo: The purpose of this article is to educate people, not make claims against Islam. And where is your Islam when you can’t so much as accept people for who they are? Where is the love, tolerance, acceptance and peace that Islam preaches in the words that you have used above? Homosexuality is not a “thing” you can “get rid (of)”, but lucky for us, prejudice is. Open your mind and open your heart and learn to accept everyone for who they are. Recommend

  • Dr,A.K.Tewari

    Since the matter is related to a significant number of people of our society therefore requires a serious debate , I would like to appriciate the efforts of both the author and the publishers .
    Religion is a new thing for us ,The oldest religion Sanatan Dharma on this earth came in wrtten form not earlier than 10 thousand year ,where as sexual behaviour has an incredibly long evolutionary history right from Transduction we find in Bacteriophage and hence religion has nothing to do with the issue .Since thf hard liners in Pakistan aod else where used to say they iike to have a static Islam ,the SC Judgement is just like a missile from the Drone in broad day light .
    With some reservations , I feel free to appriciate the contribution of author in making the issue open for frank and free debate . Recommend

  • Two words

    Much neededRecommend

  • Umar S

    Thank YOU for being so clear and taking on these media who think they have freedom to do and say anything….where is there ombudsman? HOW do I contact their editor about this!?!?!?Recommend

  • Athar

    senseless piece of writingRecommend

  • Amjad Hakro

    Pakistan equals a nihilistic neurotic nation, high on warped nonsensical rut of denial,
    wait…. ours is faith-based-fascist-dystopia.
    Death to Homophobia, AND 95% of Pakistani Press fed with Zaid Hamidization, their instigators are the real opportunist scumbags.
    Long Live LGBTs!!!
    Excellent piece RabaylRecommend

  • Kamil Hamid

    @marYam:

    Doesn’t your deen tell you to gain knowledge, be aware and above all, be tolerant? Not only is the article the author is criticizing blatantly filled with hate propaganda (and draws outrageous conclusions based on nothing more than personal beliefs), but it also spreads blatantly FALSE information about biology by conflating a disease with sexuality. A disgusting piece indeed. Kudos to the author for this great write up.Recommend

  • Tariq Ahsan

    Courageous and logical refutation of ignorance found in The News piece.Recommend

  • Minhaj ul-Abidin

    @Happy Man:

    Gay Liberation? I ain’t against it, it’s just that there’s nothing in it for me.for me.

    “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Martin Luther King, Jr Recommend

  • Komal

    This is a great article, thanks for writing it. It would take far too long for me to go through everything horrendous about the original NEWS article, but a few things that struck me:

    Lesbianism was erased totally.
    The language of infection and disease was used. For example, homosexuals are multiplying (through mitosis, surely), homosexuality is spreading, etc.
    Homosexuality was referred to as a practice or a behaviour, rather than a way of being.
    Male homosexuality was reduced to diseases, rather than unsafe same-sex activity between men merely being correlated with the spread of diseases.
    The perspective was entirely that of a heterosexual: it was third-personal and alienated, rather than first-personal and empathizing. The voice of homosexuals was not heard in the article at all, and the representation of homosexuals was at times exoticizing and at other times objectifying and degrading (also, the medical establishment trying to ‘explain’ homosexuality has always struck me as an attempt to control it).

    There’s more, but I’ll stop here ;).Recommend

  • http://twitter.com/DoubleOAwesome Talha Zareef

    @marYam:
    Its a persons personal choice weather he chooses to accept the values of a religion or choose to ignore them, it’s called free will. You’d know about it if you haven’t been living underneath a rock for the past 100 years.Recommend

  • http://twitter.com/DoubleOAwesome Talha Zareef

    @CB Guy:
    @Iffo
    Not everyone in this world is a Muslim. Everyone has their own view, and you should learn to respect other peoples opinions and beliefs. That intolerance is the very reason why we have so many sectarian problems as well as the disease of terrorism running through the veins of our country. And I’m sure that is what infuriated the instigators who are responsible for Salman Taseer’s death.Recommend

  • Morbid Isolation

    I can understand the author’s point and that is spot on but what she is saying is not a unique opinion as it coincides with the point of view of scores of the educated-liberal-secular sorts in the country. The angle in this article is cliche all the author did was use the cliche against another author’s written work which was also an opinion. That’s what freedom of speech is. No matter how vulgar,ridiculous,insensitive or repulsive somebody’s opinion is, it is his right to say it. Some people will choose to make this opinion their own or ignore it completely, that is their freedom of choice and opinion. Your writing is full of ‘i know my opinion is right’ and a little angry when it should be ‘how about looking at this problem in a new light?’ or ‘lets all be a little more humane to people who are different’ instead you go on a rant with condescending overtones.

    Also, you say: ‘I can even concede, hesitantly, that it is entirely rational to be opposed to homosexuality if one follows Islam strictly.’

    How is that ‘rational’? Are you saying it’s rational to discriminate against homosexuals if one is a fundamentalist. That automatically kills your whole argument.

    Whether being gay is natural or a choice it doesn’t matter. Everybody has the right to choose.

    Please be less preachy,less angry,more analytical,understanding and thought provoking. If you want to so desperately advocate homosexual rights or promote your pseudo-liberal disposition then do it rather than bashing other people’s opinions no matter how ridiculous you think they are.Your article was verbal lava and did not provoke a thought process but instead showed me the depths of angry passionate division that this country has amongst the masses.

    Keep writing,hope to see more of your work! Recommend

  • ilyas abasi

    “Sodomy is a shameful” act but what about the “Nurseries” where ill fated children are victimised ?Recommend

  • http://obamasaysdomore.wordpress.com Rabayl

    hey morbid isolation,

    Won’t address your ad hominem attacks against me (seriously, what’s your beef with my picture) but I will just say that I was not arguing against an OPINION piece in The News. That piece was not opinion-editorial but a supposedly objective presentation of ‘medical’ facts citing scientific studies but not really explaining those studies. I refuted the claims made in that piece. This isn’t about my opinion or anyone else’s at all. This is about a national newspaper basically publishing lies. That does make me angry and needs to be called out.Recommend

  • A doctor

    Don’t mislead the public. There is more chance of transmission of the HIV virus during sex between 2 men because of the mucosa involved compared to heterosexual sex.Recommend

  • Mian Sahib

    I wonder when non doctors will stop writing on stuff they know nothing about, completely against ethics. Recommend

  • Iffo

    Most of people writing blogs and commenting them are working against the ideology of Pakistan and Islam.
    @sophia u said your Islam??
    Who are you?? U communicate in ur community. U luks outsider! Really
    Allah plz save us from every kind of sin n mistake.
    Allah bless all Muslims and give hidayath to Non MuslimsRecommend

  • http://bakedsunshine.wordpress.com/ Shumaila

    I’d like to clarify something about the medical aspect of the article, which I don’t think has been pointed out yet.

    Homosexuality does not cause AIDS, but the nature of the sexual act between homosexual men is such that they are more likely to contract an STD – this is proven by research,go look it up, I’m not explaining in more detail here.

    However, if sex is done a similar way even between heterosexual couples there is the same risk for transmission of STDs such as AIDS. So such a way of transmission is not limited to MSMs, but again it is still seen more often among the homosexual community, and thus STDs are too.

    Then there is also the consideration that in our setting homosexuals do not have the same support regarding long-term relationships, and thus the promiscuity in this population promotes further spread of STDs.

    I suppose part of the panic is because HIV/AIDS was originally discovered among homosexuals in Europe and has been associated with them slightly more than with other members of society for the reasons I mentioned above.

    This is not a good enough reason for the kind of homophobia displayed in the article however – that is not justifiable.Recommend

  • http://Twitter.com/doubleoawesome Talha Zareef

    @Iffo:
    So this is all a Jewish/American/Zionist/anti-Zaid Hamid conspiracy?
    Like I said before. There are other views besides Islam as well, learn to listen to them and accept them.
    And to all those saying that HIV is more easily passed through homo sexual male on male sex, you’re right, but no one stops them from using a condom. They’re readily available for as little as 15rs for a 3 pack. And with the Touch condoms ad’s on tv during cricket matches, how could anyone not know about them. Recommend

  • Kamil Hamid

    @Iffo:

    Right, because you define what it is to be “Islamic” or “Pakistani”? Because anyone who doesn’t agree with you (i.e. anyone with an actual brain) must automatically be an evil Western agent coming to pollute our ‘shareef’ minds?
    How banal and wonderfully myopic.Recommend

  • Mohd Bashir

    Well Done Rabayl!!Recommend

  • http://www.inspirationalladdu.wordpress.com Samm

    Excellent article!

    People who write such “informative articles” deserve to be called out!! And good question: where the hell have all fact-checkers gone?!?! Recommend

  • Reshma

    /It is a well-documented fact all over the world that by itself, the act of two men having sex does not increase the risk of becoming HIV positive./

    This is completely wrong. Not a fact at all.Recommend

  • Fahad Raza

    Ok. first thing I would suggest Express Tribune to refrain from posting blogs originally posted elsewhere as I feel it may counter and conflict integrity since they may evade editing or screening.They might give an impression to regular reader like me that it was posted somewhere else “first” not here a little De-motivating factor.
    Now to the post itself. I feel the article posted in THE NEWS about give a concern about the spread of the disease and the author got annoyed to write this advocacy blog. It hints that such norms should not be hated but accepted even if they destroy a family. Its very easy to say “its HIS/HER choice but the questions is. what if someone want to grab a hot ember? wouldn’t anyone object seeing the result will definitely be isolation if not death.
    In our society family gives support to individual from young till old (generally), and family mostly is concerned about the young generation’s happy matrimonial settlements. What will go though the parents when their child takes a vile path generally falling in illicit company destroying his youth. What is the root cause of this I ask? isn’t it sex it practice and pleasure easily acquired at young age or sometimes getting fed up to choose something new ?
    Now West can have all its right to accept them as normal as there they talk about family after having a DNA test verification first, ironically they value liberties over family. Why should we ?
    Why not abolishing castration of human beings?
    Why not treating the persons suffering from Gender Identity Disorder?
    Why can’t we prosecute Doctors n surgeons who were involved in the Mal-practices of SEX change some hospitals in Gujranwala ?(identified when Pakistan’s first lesbian marriage was reported)?
    Why do we have to follow western values blindly?
    We need to restore dignity which is being threatened by morale decline thanks to licentious activities and their advocacy.Recommend

  • Abu Bakr

    In the end whether you’re liberal or conservative, either way do justice to all and grant people the right to live their life as they please.

    I was infuriated at the piece you are referring to, but i knew someone would come around and give them a ‘dhulai’. Enjoyed reading this for reasons other than that too. Newspapers need to take more responsibility in such matters.. they’re misleading so many people.Recommend

  • Komal

    It’s quite shocking to see people respond to this article by implying that the original NEWS article was just a well-meaning warning based on an uncontroversial scientific fact. The homophobia in the article is apparent to anybody who is not himself homophobic (therefore having a vested interest in denial), or who has not forgotten to bring his wits to the conversation.

    Consider, for example, that what is identified as a threat is not unsafe sex, or even unsafe sex between men, but homosexuality. That is a sexual orientation, not a practice. Under the term ‘homosexual’ fall: lesbians, celibate people who are attracted to members of the same sex, monogamous or married same-sex couples, promiscuous MSM/WSW/gays/lesbians, asexual people who are emotionally attracted to members of the same sex, gay/lesbian people unhappily trapped in ‘conventional’ marriages, young gay/lesbian people who are still virgins, etc.

    Further, consider the language used: the implication that homosexuality is a disease that spreads, even through homosexuals themselves multiplying (!). In a less bigoted country, this would be considered a human rights violation (actually it would never have made it past the editorial board in the first place). To compare a group of people to germs or insects is considered a human rights violation, for obvious reasons. And consider also the way in which ordinary activities are described in an alienating way, with the implication of menace: e.g. mentioning that us eevil homosexuals also have parties where we invite people. Yes, because we’re humans, who engage in social activities! Talking about homosexuals like we’re another species: no, not homophobic at all, since it really just comes down to the author’s concern about the spread of AIDS rolls eyes.

    So please, spare us the reminder that certain sexual activities have a higher likelihood of the spread of STDs. The author of this article is not stupid enough not to know that, though the critics who keep reminding us of it are evidently stupid enough not to see that that is NOT what the original article is about.Recommend

  • Robinhood

    I have nothing against homosexuals or straight arrows. But, only so long as their actions dont lead to an epidemic of a chronic debilitating disease becoming a burden on an already weak health care system. I have not read this research study conducted by the professor in Islamabad but I know such studies undergo tense scrutiny before being publicized. Hence, if, soon to be Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Rabyl Manzoor, has dismissed this case control study as bullcrap. We must dismiss it too? The reputation and designation of the questioned professer will be tarnished to no end.
    Also, here’s another fact: “The first recognised cases of AIDS occurred in the USA in the early 1980s (more about this period can be found on our History of AIDS page). A number of gay men in New York and California suddenly began to develop rare opportunistic infections and cancers that seemed stubbornly resistant to any treatment. At this time, AIDS did not yet have a name, but it quickly became obvious that all the men were suffering from a common syndrome.”
    To dwell in the history of AIDs is far beyond my scope of immunology and I’m a medical doctor, And this begs my next question: as a economist with no academic knowledge of epidemiology,biostats,immunology,disease control/transmission etc. what makes you decide with conviction that gay practises don’t lead to homosexuality? In 2006, the Los Angeles Gays & Lesbian Center undertook a campaign to convince their people that “HIV is a gay disease”, they were wrong to hog the problem entirely to themselves, but they were right in addressing a problem which is more prevalent in male homosexuals. Recommend

  • Ali Kazmi

    You’re a very good person, Rabayl Manzoor. You’ve said everything I wanted to in response to that vile The News article and then some. Kudos to you, you excellent, excellent woman! :)Recommend

  • Robinhood

    I have nothing against homosexuals or straight arrows. But, only so long as their actions dont lead to an epidemic of a chronic debilitating disease becoming a burden on an already weak health care system. I have not read this research study conducted by the professor in Islamabad but I know such studies undergo tense scrutiny before being publicized. Hence, if, soon to be Professor of Epidemiology and Biostatistics, Rabyl Manzoor, has dismissed this case control study as bullcrap. We must dismiss it too? The reputation and designation of the questioned professer will be tarnished to no end.
    Also, here’s another fact: “The first recognised cases of AIDS occurred in the USA in the early 1980s (more about this period can be found on our History of AIDS page). A number of gay men in New York and California suddenly began to develop rare opportunistic infections and cancers that seemed stubbornly resistant to any treatment. At this time, AIDS did not yet have a name, but it quickly became obvious that all the men were suffering from a common syndrome.”
    To dwell in the history of AIDs is far beyond my scope of immunology and I’m a medical doctor, And this begs my next question: as a economist with no academic knowledge of epidemiology,biostats,immunology,disease control/transmission etc. what makes you decide with conviction that gay practises don’t lead to AIDS? In 2006, the Los Angeles Gays & Lesbian Center undertook a campaign to convince their people that “HIV is a gay disease”, they were wrong to hog the problem entirely to themselves, but they were right in addressing a problem which is more prevalent in male homosexuals.Recommend

  • saima bawany

    given the spread of islamic fundamentalism in our country it’s no surprise to see the homophobic hate filled comments of some of the people here.Gays & lesbians have as much right to live & prosper in pakistan as the straight people do.The religious barbarians shouldn’t try to impose their jaundiced view of society on every one else.I’ve always supported the right of athiests,agnostics,ex-muslims & gays & lesbians to live life according to their wishes.

    Pakistani people need to know “They’re here,they’re queer.Get used to it”Recommend

  • Mark

    The thing about the doctor predicting it to cause an AIDS epidemic is just scary. I saw at least one person point out his level of education and that makes it even worse.

    A doctor should actually know the facts behind diseases. Especially ones like AIDS that once got insane amounts of attention.

    It shows that the phrase “people are afraid of what they don’t understand” is still quite valid.Recommend

  • Muneezeh

    Excellent blog.Recommend

  • http://www.citizensarchive.org Sarah Elahi

    Thank you. I’m so glad someone took the time to say this. Recommend

  • Hina

    Islam prohibits homosexuality and also tells us clearly that those who support them would be punished. Please do not mix it with tolerance or human rights. It is not acceptable by Islam and that should be the final verdict for any Muslim.Recommend

  • bilal

    one day people will say incests should also be not discouraged… its their choice…. where is the line? Recommend

  • provoker

    what the heck !! where is my comment ? i dint write anything obscene.Recommend

  • CB Guy

    @ Talha Zareef: Homosexuality is a crime in Islam, as is all other religions. So basically it does not matter if you are a Muslim or otherwise, its a crime. Crimes are not to be tolerated, rather those who commit them should be rehabilitated if possible. i have a lot of tolerance for everything that is not a crime, but i find it hard to say everything is hunky dory when it clearly isn’t. Personally i find this piece of writing (the article) to be quite a waste of space. This issue is not really an issue in Pakistan and it seems nothing more then a stupid attempt to bring it into public light.

    “Bud naam hongey to kia naam na hoga” Recommend

  • provoker

    if tribune can give the writer to write such a explicit article then come on do not remove the comments of others .Freedom of speech is to everyone not to someone who says “hatsoff” writer and blah blah.

    Homosexuality is banned in Islam and Pakistan is made on the name of Islam.So stop supporting any such non-sense in a Islamic state.

    There are three levels of IMAAN (FAITH) and the lowest among three is to think bad as bad.if you can’t stick yourself to the ist level of IMAAN(stop something bad from you own hands), believe me you must go through your believing thoroughly.

    Don’t try to find something good out of bad.

    have a good dayRecommend

  • M Alam

    To the friends in the ‘comment section’ who don’t like the piece only because same sex is ‘haram’. One, the blog doesn’t advocate same sex, it’s only a comment on a badly written and unresearched newspaper story. And two, I take it you people WILL want to do something about things that are prohibited in Islam. How about rape? Or child rape? There is a five years old girl, Meena, in Agha Khan hospital waiting for a second operation to repair the torn internal organs as a result of a particularly brutal rape. Would you care to donate money to the hospital or to Roshni Helpline, the NGO taking care of the minor? Would you care to reach out to the poor parents to sympathise with them? Would you join a procession or write to your MNA or MPA demanding immediate arrest and harshest punishment for the culprit(s)? If you are not doing any of this, keep your lectures about Islam and deen to yourself.Recommend

  • Nauman Muhammad Khan

    well i am unable to understand that why such a topic is under discussion in a country which is created in the name of ISLAM…have not u read about the the downfall of the people(qoume looth) who prefered homosexuality in Quran-e-pak…they were given “aazab” of the highest level..
    and the fact remains the same that if you will violate nature’s laws , u will have to pay for it…
    my advice would be that never try to prove a point which is against islam with ur own logics…its nt the way to deal with it…Recommend

  • CB Guy

    @ M Alam: Why is it that Islam and are below par justice system intermingled? Rape is a crime punishable by law. Islam treats it an offender harshly in this case. Similarly, sodomy has been disliked in no unclear terms and is a crime. This article talks about defending sodomy so definitely people will come up with their opinions mostly based on Islam. With no guidelines, morality will become a relative term. Say a robber will find him/herself pious when compared to a rapist or killer. or a simple killer suggests he is better then a serial killer and it can go on and on. So Islam is our guide and the judgement of right and wrong is based on it. Its not a man made code so not all people would agree or even understand it, well most would not understand all of it, we probably have yet not reached a level of cognition required for that. Recommend

  • Komal

    I should probably have left this discussion by now, but I want to say one last thing:

    Whether or not homosexuality is prohibited in Islam is irrelevant. The original NEWS article was not an opinion piece, nor a proposed topic for theological or ethical discussion on a forum or blog. It was a news piece, that is, it was supposed to be reporting the news in an unbiased way. Instead of reporting the news, it simply stated bigoted opinions, and all the so-called ‘facts’ in the piece were based on a single, unqualified source.

    If you want to go around condemning homosexuality on religious grounds, then writing misleading and unethical news reports is not the place to start. Not only is it wrong because it is homophobic, it is wrong because it is opinion masquerading as news. Surely even the homophobic Muslims commenting on this blog post have the sense to realize that.

    Further, to say something is irreligious or prohibited by a religion is one thing, but to use the language of infection and disease when talking about a group of people, to alienate, exoticize or objectify them, describe them one-dimensionally and as if they were another species, and even endanger them, is quite another. There are plenty of spiritual people who believe, wrongly of course, that homosexuality might come in the way of a person’s relationship with God or their inner peace, but they do not resort to unethical behaviour in order to make this point.

    Oh, also, Express Tribune, you might want to fix your comment forms! They swallow up all the formatting, including paragraph breaks, and this makes reading the comments more unpleasant. Thanks.Recommend

  • sls

    Gay Liberation? I ain’t against it, it’s just that there’s nothing in it for me.

    You might find that there’s a lot heterosexual couples can learn from (some) hemosexual couples who seem to live on far greater terms of equality and intimacy than is the norm for the former. Here are a couple of clips of George Galloway talking to a Christian and Muslim caller respectively who cannot come to terms with the fact that some people can be intimate with members of their own sex.Recommend

  • Sameer

    I just wanted to say (for the benefit of all the people with really bad grammar) that I am gay and that it is not a choice I made. I was born gay and tried desperately to be straight for most of my life because who would want to be marginalised? It would be the equivalent of a white man wanting to be black in the US in the sixties.

    I am thirty years old now and have realised that I will never be straight because I never have. I wanted to be straight so badly because I believed what you all believed, that being gay was just some sort of mental condition that could be made to go away. I prayed and I pleaded to God but nothing happened. You know why? Because guess what? God decided to make me gay when I was born. And nobody can change that.

    All the gay men and women reading this, please step forward and let everyone know how it is. Recommend

  • Mirza

    a) Pakistan was not intended to be an Islamic state, Jinnah fully well intended a secular one.
    b) Being a homosexual does not make one a monster. We are all human beings.
    c) Islam, to the best of my knowledge, does prohibit sodomy, and it is punishable
    d) Islam does not, to the best of my knowledge, discriminate on the basis of sexuality alone in itself. It’s the act of sodomy that’s condemned.
    e) It’s the decisions that we make that show who we truly are. Perhaps homosexuality is a test from Allah. It is perfectly okay, to the best of my knowledge, to be homosexual, and Muslim, as long as you do not engage in sodomy.
    f) The need to bring Islam into this debate is necessary because the vast majority of this country is Muslim. And regardless of whatever Jinnah’s vision was, today it is officially an ‘Islamic Republic’
    h) I do not think that the Prophet (S) or his companions would smile upon Pakistani society’s behavior towards any of its minorities. Gay jokes are cruel. As is the held ridiculous belief that being ‘straight’ makes you superior (assuming you believe that homosexuality has a genetic cause). I am very sure that the Muslims of that golden era would invite others to the way of their Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching, not intimidation, ridicule, prejudice, and cruelty.Recommend

  • Ebad

    Homosexuality is a disease, a paraphilia, which was later removed from the status. It can be treated.Recommend

  • Hadi Hussain

    Hat’s off to you Rabyl. Recommend

  • Ali kazmi

    @ M ALAM

    Yes we do care about every thing, and instead of just reading over here we do actually work on the grounds to improve situations! pls dont underestimate your nation!
    secondly…the article was badly written despite it was to criticize a badly wirtten peice! the writter was very biased in her critics. and YET which is not prohibited is not prohibited, there is no question to bring other sympathies to cover up the thi8ngs you should uncover.

    PEaceRecommend

  • Maleeha

    @CB Guy: You wrote, “This issue is not really an issue in Pakistan and it seems nothing more then a stupid attempt to bring it into public light.” You’re right, homosexuality is not an ‘issue’, if the word ‘issue’ is synonymous with ‘problem’. But being in denial will not help. You can go on pretending that the population of the country consists only of heterosexuals, but I don’t see how such a belief will help anybody. We’re here, we’re queer. Get used to it. Homosexuality is not a catch-all phrase by the way – if you care to do a little research you will find out that being a cis-gendered heterosexual is only one of the several identities, orientations and performances that exist. Homosexuality is not a western concept. It has existed in all cultures and ages, and in fact only started to be labelled as homosexuality relatively recently in human history. And that is one of the worst things that have happened to ‘alternative lifestyles’. They have been forced to be viewed as ‘alternative’ and everyone associated with them has been otherized. I think being exclusively heterosexual is the real alternative lifestyle.

    Excellent article, Rabayl. I am so glad someone spoke up against such shoddy journalism.Recommend

  • mash

    Finally somebody speaks up against homophobia. Thank you Rabayl!
    To all the Ghairat Brigade Commentors: Not everything can fit in your twisted worldview and the hatred you spout in the name of religion. Pedophilia by molvis is probably more common in Pakistan as opposed to sex between 2 (or more) consenting adults of the same gender. Curl up and die!Recommend

  • Ihk

    sigh It won’t be long when we will be blogging for legalizing gay marriages and top free environment… it won’t be long… Allah save us…Recommend

  • siddiqui

    Every society instills certain values in the individual. They can range from treating homo-sexuality as a psychological dis-order to it being the ultimate goal of humanity.
    I haven’t read the news item from TheNews and am certainly in no position to attest or verify scientific facts presented there. But the author of this article burns herself more in her anger than rebutting that article. Rebuttal, requires you to put out solid arguments rather than stating your opinions in certain or no un-certain terms.
    Moreover it contain gems, e.g.,

    I can even concede, hesitantly, that it is entirely rational to be opposed to homosexuality if one follows Islam strictly.

    Rationality is does not depend on association but on arguments.

    Betraying colossal ignorance of basic facts about human biology, the writer states:
    “Like other parts of the country, the homosexuals are multiplying in twin cities of Islamabad and Rawalpindi.”
    Newsflash: it is physically impossible for gay men to multiply as they cannot get pregnant or give birth.

    Are you serious? If it is an attempt at sarcasm its pretty poor. Or perhaps in your attempt to appear rational, your anger is consuming you. Should have taken some time before picking up your laptop and start typing.

    For example: In Islamabad, many fashion and production houses are “stormed” with gays and homos in closet.

    This is hardly a news.Recommend

  • Straight

    I applaud your courage and agree with your sentiments. Kudos for taking the brutish ‘bull’ of bigotry, bias and reactionary ‘ideology’ by the ‘horns’ …

    Keep up the good work !Recommend

  • Xam Xaffa

    I CompLeteLy, WhoLe HeArtedLy, DISAGREE With You. Recommend

  • Flopper

    People of Lut used to say the same things.Recommend

  • Salim Akbar

    You can spend all your lives bickering about the bigotry, hatred and nonsensical lies prevalent in Pakistan but unless you separate the mosque and state, you cannot come up with a viable solution. Pakistanis should try to create a state of Islam and not an Islamic State. A state of Islam is a state of society that accepts pluralism, open debates, cosmopolitanism and freedom of religion. Kudos to the author !!! A much needed voice of sanity in insane times. Down with Sharia Bolshevism and Clergy dominated societies !!! Peace :)Recommend

  • Humayun

    Rabayal, I just want to know when are you planning to leave Pakistan? Seriously it is no more a safe place for a sensible lady like you to live. You are a courageous and in fact brave lady. I would like to see more items openly discussing homosexuality on ET so as to break the silence.Recommend

  • http://RabiaKhan Rabia Khan

    Can’t understand what you want the government to do if not to address matters concerning individual life…..
    “The state has no business regulating sexual expression and practice between consenting adults. There are far more pressing matters for the government to spend its budget on than policing what people do in private.”
    Its absurd….Recommend

  • hamad

    1) ok why do we hav to presume that english media should b liberal. I think polarizing our society into angrazi liberals & desi conservatives is the main problem of pakistani media. How can we progress when our ideas and opinions dont intermingle freely across language barrier. Angezi blogers should start writing in urdu to get their ideas to the common man. Similarly urdu dans should write for english to see how their ideas are challenged by the ” other side”

    2) As for the gay debate although i think our society is not yet at a point to discuss such issues this is wat i believe:

    Homosexuality may be haram but i dont think it constitutes grounds to consider one a kafir. Muslims steal, rape, and kill all the time and we dont banish them from islam. We giv them a chance. So there is always room for gays as our brothers in islam but acording to islam their sexuality should be frowned upon just like other vices.

    For the argument that ppl are born gay, well ppl are born “paedophiles” too. Doesnt constitute grounds to legelize it. But also doesnt mean that such ppl should not be given a chance at life and basic rights.

    3) As i said our country folks arent ready for a gay rights movement yet. And in a senerio like this i think its best that we dont mainstream debates like these. All it would lead is to more gay bashing and anti gay laws. Personaly i think wat ppl do in their bedrooms is not the states concern but once u start “gay pride” and “gay marriage” it does become one. So maybe for now we should keep things under the sheets :).

    4) As for the health part being a med student i know that 50% of AIDS cases are in gays (robbins pathology 8th edition). It was called “Gay Related Infectious Disease” in earlier medical litrature. And epidimiolgy principles state that they r the largest group at risk and also the largest reservoir in the society. So yea more the gays more the chance of spread of aids however this is true if gays in case are ” promiscous”. However this doesnt mean that we hav to reduce gays. We dont kill poor people because they hav increased incidence of TB. It only means that such groups should be screened and provided with relative treatment and education to stop the spread.

    5) I think we should not follow the wests idea of gay rights but evolve one of our own better suited with our society. Personaly i think being gay doesnt realy constitute an ” identity” specialy in our part of the world and thus doesnt need special rights. The best i think is that the law shouldnt giv special privlages to gays but at the same time shouldnt punish them either. If god wanted us to make a law for it he would hav ordered prophet lot to make one. Lets leave the punishment & judgement to god for he is much more merciful than us.Recommend

  • folkefiende

    Come one Homophobia and hate is far off on the spectrum…tolerance for Hindus and the end of concocted anti India cocktails fed to the populace of Pakistan needs to addressed first as start.If you are also one of those rabayl and not agree with likes of asma jehangir, Nusrat Javed, Pervez Hoodsbhouy who are all but a small minority…then you too need to think abouteradicating those phobias and hatreds before and then move on to more sensitive issues like sexualityRecommend

  • OK

    @Talha Zareef:
    So what youre trying to say is that we shouldnt follow Islam? Do you believe that Islam is not a right religion? why dont you just change your name if you dont want to be a Muslim? Do you drink too? fornicate? anything else? If you dont want to follow the way of Islam, dont preach against it. Recommend

  • sajid

    as a muslim its jst senseless useless piece of writing… as we are muslm .. and there is some limits in islam….Recommend

  • A Doctor seriously

    Every Body has the right of doing what ever he wants in privacy. Its a relatively free country. But I should inform you Homosexuality is defiantly very risky Behavior… The HIV virus just is programmed to spread more easily and way more aggressively in Homosexuals. Plus Male Homosexual behavior increases your risk for the Anal Warts, Anal Cancer, Gay Bowel Syndrome,Kopsi Sarcoma, some types of cancers,Hep B and C, Its no pretty. Hard and very distressing to treat. In Pakistan multiple studies are showing a concentrated epidemic in Needle sharers and Male sex workers and Homosexuals. Who ever is into such stuff, should be very very careful.Recommend

  • dee

    we are an islamic country. homosexuality should be BANNED. period!!!Recommend

  • Musa

    @dee:
    We’re an Islamic country. Women should be banned. Tv should be banned. All forms of contraceptives. All literature. Get the photos off our Id cards. they’re unislamic. Ban music. Kill atif Aslam and Ali zafar and all this who sing.
    Ban women driving. Ban women going to school.
    Do this and we’ll be an Islamic country. . Recommend

  • Ihk

    @Musa:
    your emotional rant is sufficient enough to pen a soap opera.
    please bore someone else.Recommend

  • http://sparta siddiqui

    @Musa:
    This musa guy seems a bit touche…
    Seems like a godless version of the Musa Khan played by Shaan.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2dRadk2YAiw&feature=relatedRecommend

  • Musa

    @Ihk:
    Well I suppose you’re happy with the way things are going, all the radicals and terrorists. You’re the same.
    I’m glad rabayl spoke up, or I would’ve done it instead.
    Did you even check out this guy’s website? The one who wrote that homophobic article in the news?

    ‘He is a recognized genius, discovering new horizons of art. Dr Abrar Umar serenades his streams of time with a limitless and liquid flow of spirit of attain. He qualifies the essence of attain and poetry he has written and music he has designed, are alive with new meaning.’
    Feel the narcissism?
    The UN passed a resolution a few days ago. Supporting gay rights. Pakistan voted against it.
    Wonder why they’ve given Pakistan the right to vote in the Human Roghts council. Theyve removed Libya. Keeping my fingers crossed for Pakistan and Saudi Arabia.Recommend

  • nafisa

    Thought provoking articles help change the opinions of the Public.
    Aggressive, Condescending,some what ‘ forceful’ opinionated journalism just incites more hatred.Like it clearly has.
    Its not supporting ” Gay rights”.
    I believe people should be allowed to live whatever life style they choose to live. Everyone is aware of religion,faith & science. Let them be the judge.
    Gay or Straight, Let Live. Recommend

  • Ihk

    @Musa:
    Yes Musa, I am against homosexuality THAT makes me a radical and a terrorist – not the fact that I am a supporter of more basic human rights like: freedom to choose what religion to follow, justice for all Pakistanis regardless of race, ethnicity and religion, justice to rape victims, equal opportunities in corporate world for all ladies WHETHER they wear hijab or not…you get the idea.

    You people are the other extreme now. Whatever you have written above signifies the fact that you have NO idea how Islam has actually liberated men and women both from stooping down the level of useless social customs and traditions.

    The worst outcome of this extremism and radicalism, I am afraid, is how it has made educated, seasoned people like you to stereotype and survive on rhetoric….just like them.Recommend

  • 007

    i just have 3 words for you
    READ SURAH LUTRecommend