LGBT rights in Pakistan

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LGBT flag map of Pakistan

There are few to no LGBT rights in Pakistan. Since 6 October 1860, it has been illegal to participate in homosexual acts (to have sexual contact with a person of the same gender). Unlike in the neighboring country of India, this Law has not yet been repealed (or gotten rid of). Homosexuality is also thought of as a taboo vice in Pakistan. The major religions in Pakistan do not approve of homosexuality. Because of this, many people in the country are against homosexuality and other forms of alternative sexual orientation.

Pakistan is officially an Islamic Republic. However, in reality, Pakistan is largely secular (non-religious). It mainly has Anglo-Saxon laws which were inherited from the British. More and more, there are trends (or patterns) of liberalization (becoming more liberal) in the country. Globalization and social tolerance are also increasing. Because of this, public gay parties have been taking place in the country, and these parties have been thriving for a number of years.[1]

The Constitution of Pakistan does not specifically mention sexual orientation or gender identity. There are certain parts in the Constitution that may affect the rights of LGBT Pakistani citizens.

Transsexualism and intersexuality[change | change source]

A thriving community of hijras and transsexual people cross-dressed as females protest in Islamabad.

Most South Asian nations have a concept, or idea, called "hijra", or third gender. People who belong to prevails the third gender are thought of as not being either man or woman. Pakistan is no different. In the country, there is a vibrant culture of hijras. They are sometimes called transsexuals in English writings.[2] Like transgender people in many countries, hijras are sometimes ridiculed (made fun of), abused, and treated violently.[2] However, they are also accepted, to a point. This is because of the position they held in precolonial Desi society. For example, they are welcome at weddings, where they will dance as entertainment for the men, and are also welcome among the women.[2]

Hijras are usually tolerated in Pakistani society. They are thought of as blessed in the Pakistani culture. Most hijras are thought to be cultural descendants (or relatives) of court eunuchs from the Mughal era.[3] Hijras are thought to be born with genital dysphoria. People sometimes feel afraid that the hijras might curse them so that they become the same way.[4][5] Because of this, people listen to the hijras' needs, give them alms (or charity), and invite them to events and special occasions, like the birth of a child, a child's circumcision, or weddings.[6] Hijra communities live a very secretive life. Because of this, many people see the hijras as mysterious.

In 2004, it was reported that Lahore alone has 10,000 active transvestites.[3]

LGBT politics[change | change source]

A number of the more liberal, secular parties in Pakistan tend to agree in principle to granting rights to various LGBT communities in the country, but are afraid to act too openly or quickly due to fear of extremist religious groups such as the Taliban who are against any such rights.

Time and again, various such parties and leaders have said that Pakistan needs to be more open, in public, about sexual orientation and gender identity issues. Yet, the sense persists that no public organization, club, or society would be allowed to endorse (or officially support) LGBT human rights, or even act as a social network for LGBT people, in the Islamic State. Only the Pakistan Greens has publicly expressed support for their LGBT rights for its citizens in general and abroad (Overseas Pakistanis) and has called for greater public openness and awareness about Sexual orientations and gender identity issues.

Only now, recently, in 2012, the Supreme Court of Pakistan has acted in a very bold manner[7] and defied the religious right, by granting for the first time, three basic rights to transsexuals i.e. (a) the right to be recognised as a 'Third sex or gender' (b) the right to vote as Pakistani citizens as transsexuals and (c) granted the fixation of job quotas in the public/government sector, for transsexual people. These are all landmark decisions by the apex court and hopefully the situation for LGBT rights will improve more in future.

LGBT rights in Kashmir[change | change source]

Same-sex sexual activity legal      Other type of partnership (or unregistered cohabitation)      Foreign same-sex marriages recognized1      No recognition of same-sex couples      Restrictions on freedom of expression Same-sex sexual activity illegal      Not Enforced or unclear      Penalty      Life in prison      Death penalty

Homosexuality is still illegal in the Pakistan-administered Kashmir and Occupied Kashmir. Pakistan was one of the 67 signatory nations opposing the UN declaration on sexual orientation and gender identity, which failed to pass.

In Kashmir same-sex marriages, civil unions, and domestic partnerships are not recognised.

There is are no legal protection against discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity.

Summary table[change | change source]

Same-sex sexual activity legal No (Penalty: fine or 2 to less than 10 years of imprisonment; varies by region and is rarely enforced)[8][9][10]
Equal age of consent No
Anti-discrimination laws in employment for gays, lesbians, and bisexuals No
Anti-discrimination laws in employment only for Transgender or Transexual persons Yes (known as Khuwaja Sira, formerly hijra, or Third Gender)[11][12]
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services for gays, lesbians, and bisexuals No
Anti-discrimination laws in the provision of goods and services for Yes (known as Khuwaja Sira, formerly hijra, or Third Gender)[11][12]
Anti-discrimination laws in all other areas (incl. indirect discrimination, hate speech) No
Recognition of same-sex couples No
Adoption by same-sex couples No
Gays allowed to serve in the military No
Right to change legal gender Yes (since 2010)
Access to IVF for lesbians No
Commercial surrogacy for gay male couples No

References[change | change source]

  1. Walsh, Declan (2006-03-14). "Pakistani society looks other way as gay men party". London: The Guardian Newspaper.,,1730228,00.html. Retrieved 2008-05-05.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Kiss and tell By Rabab Naqvi Sunday, 25 Oct, 2009
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Out-on-their-luck teens turn to prostitution". The Daily Times (Pakistan).
  4. "Eunuchs warn of power outage protest dance". TopNews India.
  5. "Eunuchs warn Mepco of ‘dance protest’". The Dawn Newspaper. Retrieved 2008-05-06.
  6. "Fake bills business thrives in Pindi, Islamabad cities". The Daily Times (Pakistan).\11\14\story_14-11-2007_pg11_1. Retrieved 2008-05-06.
  7. News Report on the Supreme Court of Pakistan's decision 2012
  8. "Pakistan Law". International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association. Retrieved 2014-02-11.
  9. "The 41 Commonwealth Nations where being gay can land you in prison". Pink News. Retrieved 2014-02-11.
  10. "Where is it illegal to be gay?". BBC News. Retrieved 2014-02-11.
  11. 11.0 11.1 "Awareness about sexually transmitted infections among Hijra sex workers of Rawalpindi/Islamabad". Pakistan Journal of Public Health. 2012.
  12. 12.0 12.1 "A Second Look at Pakistan’s Third Gender". Positive Impact Magazine. Retrieved 2014-02-02.