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What it’s like to be a 22-year-old gay man in Pakistan

What it’s like to be a 22-year-old gay man in Pakistan

Pakistan Opinion LGBTI

I’m a gay man but I still live completely in the closet in Pakistan because I fear the people I tell may be homophobic.

I wouldn’t blame them because the lack of LGBTI awareness is a huge problem in Pakistani society. Even very well educated people are skeptical about homosexuality and queer people.

There are many ridiculous myths regarding gay people. And while they sound ridiculous, they are really believed by many people here.

Gays are often imagined to be promiscuous, irreligious, lacking family and societal values and without a sense of responsibility.

People believe you may indulge in homosexual behavior because of sheer gender segregation.

People believe it is a mental disorder and gays are not normal. The vast majority of people believe that gays can become straight – and that straight people can be turned gay.

They often think being gay is a choice, or perhaps a product of childhood molestation or is some kind of addiction to anal sex.

Another myth is that there are a variety of faith-healing methods to help gays switch from homosexuality to heterosexuality.

People also think social and financial deprivation leads many men to indulge in homosexual prostitution and that’s why people turn out to be gay.

They think that if the law offers us more protection or society becomes more accepting, it will cause a growth in the number of LGBTI people and encourage others to turn to homosexuality.

Gays are immoral.

Gays can’t have kids.

People genuinely believe that transgender men and women and gays worship devils.

There’s deep-rooted stigma about transgender people generally, which continues to this day. It even extends to trans men and women being refused funerals.

And this list goes on.

The status of LGBTI people, socially and legally, is at its worst. LGBTI people face prosecution by the state. And the subject is still taboo – considered too disgusting to talk about.

LGBTIs have been hyper-sexualized, portrayed as just wanting to fulfill their lust.

There’s no explicit representation of lesbian, gay or bisexual people in mainstream Pakistani media. There is a little media representation of the transgender community, but the focus of this is just to show how pitiful their lives are.

LGBTIs have always existed but have always been swept under the carpet. Even today, the media is not free to talk about these things.

Pakistan remains an ultra-conservative, ultra-religious society. We’ve a very long way to go. Change is happening but very slowly but we need to stimulate it.

Pakistan has been first Islamic country to recognize transgender people as third gender and protect them form discrimination but there’s so much to be done.

Homosexuality is an ‘offense against nature’ according to Article 377 in Pakistani penal code. The law was given to us by the British Empire but our Islamic clerics are also hostile to homosexuality.

In Pakistan we’ve no organized framework to strive for equal rights. People feel shy to speak out, while many of them even deny that queer people exist.

That’s pathetic.

We can make it better if other nations around the world amplify our voices and back us. They should build pressure on our government to ensure our safety and prosperity.

We’ve got a long battle to fight.

I hope a day comes when we the people unite and fight against homophobia and transphobia and strive for our rights.

Ihsan is a 22-year-old gay man living in Pakistan, his surname has been omitted for his security.