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Pakistan Hub



04/19/2007


Pakistan LGBT Website Dodges Government Censors

Pakistan

Pakistan's largest website devoted to the LGBT community evaded government censors who tried to block it this week, News24 reports:

"No one can squeeze space for us," said Fakhir, who declined to give his full name. "We are ready for a long cyber battle." QueerPk was launched in July to provide social networking opportunities for Pakistani's marginalized LGBT community, he said.

When the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority blocked the site this week, QueerPk's technical team diverted all traffic to the same content on another domain, humjins.com, within minutes.

YouTube has been banned in the country for more than a year after it showed a website ruled offensive to the Prophet Mohammed.


Pakistan: 'A Gay Man's Paradise'?

Gay couplePakistan may not seem like the most gay-friendly place on Earth. Not even close, since its anti-gay laws are technically more restrictive than Russia's (Russia's laws don't actually criminalize gay sex, Pakistan's do). However, with the advent of the internet, more and more members of Pakistan's underground gay community have managed to find each other and create an underground community. Thanks to a recent article released by BBC News Magazine, we now have a glimpse into that community. As it turns out, gay men in Pakistan are a lot more sexually active than some might expect. 

The article's title sums up the situation pretty succinctly: "Gay Pakistan: Where sex is available and relationships are difficult". Precisely how easy is gay sex to come by? Just ask "Danyaal", a businessman from the wealthy city of Karachi. He tells BBC that "if you want sex...it's a gay man's paradise." Danyaal is part of the city's underground gay party scene, where invite-only parties host sometimes hundreds of gay men in a private venue where they can be open about their sexuality. That doesn't mean that gay men in Karachi only get together in private setting, though. Ironically, one of the city's best gay cruising spots is one of its busiest shrines, the Abdullah Shah-Ghazi shrine:

"Every Thursday evening, as the sun sets, men from across the city gather there. A tightly packed circle is formed and those in the centre of the circle are groped by those on the periphery. To outsiders it looks like a writhing mass of men huddling around one another. Some even describe it as a 'mysterious religious ceremony'. For participants, it's anonymous group sex. This kind of behaviour is, of course, not condoned by Pakistan's religious authorities."

...Of course. Gay sex is also readily available via a malchi walah, or a "masseuse" who offers certain "extras" for a small additional fee (the equivalent of approximately $7.80 USD). These masseuses don't usually have to worry about local authorities, either, since many of them are loyal clients. "We get important people - police, army officers and ministers too," says one masseuse called "Ahmed". Ahmed even has two wives, who know about his unusual career choice and are fine with it.  "I know he has sex. No problem," said one wife. "If he doesn't work how will the kids eat? I get angry when people call them names. People are stuck in their ways."

Gay pakistanOne researcher, Qasim Iqbal, explained the possible origins of Pakistan's casual male-on-male sex culture:

"In Pakistan men are discouraged from having girlfriends and so often, their first sexual experiences will be with male friends or cousins. This is often seen as a part of growing up and it can be overlooked by families - it's the idea that 'boys will be boys'. Sex between men will be overlooked as long as no-one feels that tradition or religion are being challenged. At the end of it all, everyone gets married to a member of the opposite sex and nothing is spoken about."

Just like Iqbal says, while gay men in Pakistan have no trouble soliciting sex from other men, relationships are much harder to come by. More often than not, they will end up marrying a member of the opposite sex for convenience purposes while continuing to sleep with men on the side. Iqbal says that:

"Gay men [in Pakistan] will make every effort to stop any investment in a same-sex relationship because they know that one day they will have to get married to a woman."

Thus, in Pakistan's patriarchal society, long term man-on-man relationships are exceedingly rare. In the case of gay couple "Ali" and "Akbar", they were allowed to continue because Ali's family was run by a matriarch instead. Akbar told BBC:

"His grandmother was the head of the house so I knew that winning her over would mean everything else would fall into place. I took the time to talk to her and convince her that I was a good person. That was first and foremost. It wasn't about 'coming out' in a formal sense. It's more important to convince Ali's family that I'm a good human being.

"She once gave me a hand-embroidered decorative cloth that she had made as a teenager. She said she was giving it to me because she knew I 'take care of things'. It was a kind gesture and a very personal kind of acceptance."

GayMuslimsExist1-e1281529089994-360x270Unfortunately, it's much more difficult for lesbians, since any sort of outward expression of sexuality by women, gay or stright, is generally frowned upon. That's why lesbians "Beena" and "Fatima" have to keep their relationship rather discreet. Beena is still in the closet while Fatima contributes to an invite-only online support group for other gay Pakistanis online. Beena says that the two of them are looking to find a gay couple with which to enter into a marriage of convenience:

"I think we'll have a marriage of convenience. I know some gay guys and maybe we'll do a deal so we put in money together and they have one portion of the house and we'll have another portion. We may as well do that."

And as for the progress of LGBT rights in their home country? Beena has noticed a correlation between LGBT and women's rights in other nations. Unfortunately, that likely means that full equality will not come during their lifetime should they choose to stay in Pakistan:

"Gay rights in America came after women had basic rights. You don't see that in Pakistan. You are not allowed a difference of opinion here. My father is a gentleman but I wouldn't put it past him to put a bullet through my head. I'm all for being 'true to myself' but I don't want to die young. I think it's selfish for me to come out and campaign for gay rights now. It's selfish to the women in my family who are fighting for education and the right to marry the man of their dreams, or not to marry at all."


New Website Helps Gay Pakistanis Find Support, Navigate Anti-Gay Laws


Queer Pakistan

 

With so much controversy surrounding Russia at present, it's easy to forget that cerain other countries have even stricter anti-gay laws and policies in place. One such country is Pakistan, where laws forbid homosexual acts as well as "propaganda", and carry penalties ranging from 2 years to life in prison, or even death in some other cases. 

Queer Pakistan seeks to help improve the country's harshly anti-gay climate. It seeks to create a safe haven online for members of the underground Pakistani LGBT community, as well as provide informational tools and resources for those in and out of the community. It also seeks to spread information about sexually transmitted diseases, which is another taboo in the highly-conservative country. Its slogan declares: "Don't hate us, know usI" 

Pakistan-is-a-strange-country-1024x640Pakistan is also known for its strict censorship laws. Since the origin of the site remains unknown, it is not yet apparent if the Pakistani government has taken measures to block the site or shut it down, or if it even can. Such efforts may prove counter-intuitive, though, since Pink News reports that Pakistan leads the world in online gay porn searches. Thus, it may actually be in the country's best interest to encourage traffic to this site, since it provides actual substantive information. 

Nevertheless, this site serves as just another example of the web has allowed members of underground LGBT movements to communicate and provide support for each other


News: Gay Judge, Challenger, Subway Pusher, Fox's 'Embarrassment'

1NewsIcon Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has signed a bill putting new limits on abortion clinics, including a law requiring that providers ask patients whether they've been coerced into having an abortion.

Airplane21NewsIcon At least four people are dead after a plane slid off the runway in Moscow. "Emergency officials said in a televised news conference that four people were killed and another four severely injured when the plane rolled off the runway into a snowy field and disintegrated. The plane's cockpit area was sheared off from the fuselage and a large chunk gashed out near the tail."

1NewsIcon California Gov. Jerry Brown appointed Judge Kim Colwell to the Alameda County Superior Court, making her the first lesbian to sit on that court.

1NewsIcon Matthew McConaughey And Camila Alves welcomed their third child together.

1NewsIcon A look ahead at Prince William and Kate Middleton's 2013.

1NewsIcon Jesse Tyler Ferguson and fiance Justin Mikita go for a stroll on the beach in St. Barts.

Pakistanprotest1NewsIcon Some Pakistanis are upset over a series of paintings that depicts Islamic clerics in homoerotic situations. "Officials at the National College of Arts in Lahore, Pakistan, shut down the Journal of Contemporary Art, which published the paintings by artist Muhammad Ali in a summer edition. School officials also removed all issues of the journal from campus bookstores and dissolved the journal's editorial board after the images sparked threats of violence from Islamic extremists..."

1NewsIcon Fox News writer thinks that media supporting marriage equality in 2012 was an "embarrassing moment." "Newsies looked like an aging cast of "Glee," with almost every major news organization showing its support for gay marriage. CNN’s Anderson Cooper came out; ABC weather guy Sam Champion even married his boyfriend. But coverage isn’t just about rights, it’s about wrongs – "journalistic" attacks on Chick-fil-A, a shooting against a conservative organization that opposes gay marriage and more."

1NewsIcon This rare amateur video of the Challenger explosion was New Scientist's most viewed of the year.

1NewsIcon Brad Brenner at Huffington Post has a detailed look at how many gay men are using apps and online resources for their sexual and romantic needs, and how they're using them. A snippet: "More than three out of four men in our survey indicated that they struggle to find guys to connect with. Likewise, over six in 10 men said they fear getting shot down when introducing themselves, and the same number struggle with figuring out how to break the ice to initiate a conversation. Mobile app technology is easing those long-held anxieties, with 78 percent of men saying that apps allowed them to start a conversation with a guy that they otherwise wouldn't have."

Arrested1NewsIcon The new season of Arrested Development will debut in its entirety on May 4.

1NewsIcon Kanye West wore a crystal-studded mask during a concert in Atlantic City last night, because, you know, why not?

1NewsIcon Despite growing criticism, New York's Journal News will publish more names and addresses of gun owners.

1NewsIcon Police have nabbed the woman accused of pushing a man onto the subway track and to his death.

1NewsIcon Sexy sweaters.


News: Pakistan, Gay Jews, Hulk Hogan, Roll Back The Clock

1NewsIcon Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington is calling on the IRS to investigate Catholic Bishops like David Jenky who use their pulpit to influence elections.

Obamaphone1NewsIcon This picture of President Obama was taken at a campaign office in Florida right after he realized he had dialed the wrong number. "Hi is this Ann? Hi, is this Ann? Oh, I'm sorry, I must have the wrong number," he said. I wonder if the person on the other end recognized his voice.

1NewsIcon DC's High Heel Drag Race happened and it was glorious.

1NewsIcon Stuart Milk, nephew of slain activist Harvey Milk, wrote a piece in The Advocate called "The Only Choice in this Election When You're Jewish and Gay". You should read it.

1NewsIcon GOP Minnesota Senate staffer Bob Koss was fired after harassing fellow Republican Rep. John Kriesel's appearance in a pro-marriage equality advert. "Just saw the @johnkriesel gay marriage ad. Really glad the RINO [Republican In Name Only] will be leaving the legislature. #mnleg & good riddance," he tweeted at Kriesel, a veteran who lost both legs in Iraq.

Nogas1NewsIcon New York and New Jersey are still coping with a gas shortage post-Sandy.

1NewsIcon On reality television and LGBT people: "Although it is routinely dismissed as trash, the reality genre has developed a reputation for diversity that scripted television hasn't been able to match, especially when it comes to the inclusion of gays and lesbians. This consistent and constantly growing — if not always flattering — representation across nearly all networks has helped humanize gay people for mainstream America, according to gay rights organizations."

1NewsIcon Kirstie Alley is still in love with John Travolta.

1NewsIcon Bradley Cooper and his dreamy locks on the red carpet.

1NewsIcon There is a Boy Meets World sequel series in the works. It is going to be called Girl Meets World.

1NewsIcon Nick Denton and Gawker's masterful lawyers are not about to let Hulk Hogan take them down in court.

1NewsIcon Gay Pakistanis are starting to peer out of the closet. From The NY Times: "The group is invitation only, by word of mouth. Members communicate through an e-mail list and are careful not to jeopardize the location of their meetings. One room is reserved for 'crisis situations,' when someone may need a place to hide, most often from her own family. This is their safe space — a support group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Pakistanis."

NYerCover1NewsIcon The New Yorker covers the blackout.

1NewsIcon Vice President Joe Biden says GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney loves the end of Daylight Savings Time tonight because "he gets to turn the clock back". "He wants to turn back that clock so desperately -- this time he can really do it, tonight it happens. I'm going to get in trouble, but I tell you, man," said Biden in Colorado.

1NewsIcon The debate over marriage equality in Minnesota is pitting Catholic against Catholic. "As Minnesota's gay marriage vote draws near, the divide between Minnesota's Catholic hierarchy and some churchgoers gets starker. Minnesota's Roman Catholic Church has donated heavily in support of the proposed ban and called on members to support it, leaving gay-friendly Catholics in an increasingly tough position," reports Patrick Condon.


Towleroad Guide to the Tube #1219

MOUNTAIN CLIMBING IN PAKISTAN: Incredible footage shot by a drone.

DISORDERLY INTOXICATION: Rep. Allen West's hideous attack ad on Patrick Murphy. Murphy campaign responds: “Allen West is shamelessly attacking Patrick Murphy for a mistake he made as a teenager, which he has discussed at length in the media as a mistake he learned from.  West then goes on to discuss his tenure in the military in 2003 while failing to acknowledge that he was criminally charged that year for assault and violating the Uniform Code of Military Justice," said Murphy for Congress communications director Erin Moffet.  "The only reason he was able to escape prosecution is because he cut a deal to retire.  Unfortunately, West's unstable behavior has continued in Congress, and he continues to diminish the office and the people to which he serves.”

ROSS WATSON: The Australian artist has an exhibition opening in London. Ian McKellen speaks.

CROCODILE TEARS: The Obama campaign previews the upcoming debate.

For recent Guides to the Tube, click HERE.


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