Homosexuality and Being Transgender in Pakistan
Recently the US Embassy in Islamabad sponsored a gay rights meeting, which drew in a lot of extreme negative response. It angered a lot of people in Pakistan, which includes religious groups. People voiced their anger and said that what the US Embassy did was promote cultural terrorism. The meeting, according to the religious group Jamat-e-Islami promotes something as dangerous, as the infamous drone attacks done by the US.
The meeting was supposed to promote the rights of lesbians, gays, transgender and bisexual individuals in Pakistan, according to the Embassy officials. The activists against this meeting called lesbians, gays, transgender and bisexual individuals the ‘garbage’ of the society. Furthermore, it was said that these kinds of individuals are not supposed to be called either Pakistani or Muslim. They don’t deserve to be either. Surely such people forget that being a Pakistani or a Muslim has nothing to do with how such people are born with it.
All of these kinds of individuals have mental issues and hormonal problems. Transgender people are born with both sets of the reproductive organs. How is it their fault? Shouldn’t god be questioned as to why He created a transgender being? Let us not forget that lesbians, gays, transgender and bisexual people are not only found in Pakistan. They are found all over the world. Then, if such an individual is born in Pakistan and holds Pakistani nationality, why shouldn’t he/she be called a Pakistani, or why shouldn’t he/she call themselves a Pakistani, just because they were born with imperfections?
This is why god says to not pray for a girl or a boy. Pray for a healthy baby, whatever the gender. Sometimes we become selfish and raise our hopes for a boy or a girl. Look at those parents whose children are born with genetic diseases like Down Syndrome, or whose children are born lesbians, bisexuals and gays, or worse, transgender.
At least lesbians, bisexuals and gays can live in society and act normally, even if they can’t control how they feel. Look at how the transgender live in Pakistan. They are made fun of, they are raped and it is common knowledge to have fun with transgender people at weddings. Transgender people are used as objects of entertainment by some and objects of hate by others. People hate transgender individuals or ‘khusrey’ as they are called in Urdu, but at the same time enjoy them and throw away thousands of rupees on them in weddings. Almost every other wedding in Pakistan, transgender individuals are called in as dancers for entertainment.
This is how a khusra was witnessed dancing at a wedding in Pakistan. The individual used melons as boob replacements and played suggestively with them. This seemed to excite all the men. They danced and circled around the khusra wildly and threw away notes of Pakistani rupees in the air, which the other trans genders caught in their hands or with their dupatta (a long piece of cloth worn usually by Pakistani women, to cover themselves) and stuffed them in their bras. Isn’t it hypocritical to hate on such individuals, but at the same time use them as a source of entertainment? If these kinds of individuals are the garbage of society, why interact with them at all? Yet we do.
In a community which thinks such individuals existing amongst them is a curse to the society and in a society where children are told to make fun of transgender people from the beginning, these kinds of people are labelled outcasts and they cannot really mingle with other ‘normal’ people or do regular things which other people do, like go to jobs or hang out with friends. Due to this, they stick to their own groups.
It is shameful to be seen with a transgender individual or work with one in a work environment. Most of these people belong to the lower socio-economic class and are very poor. Due to this, they are not educated, nor do they think about getting themselves or their kids educated. Their survival rests with doing shady things. Things which are taboo and unspeakable in society, but they do exist. Like it has become very fashionable to hire them as dancers at weddings¸ in the past it was not so. In the past, transgender people usually crashed a wedding and teased the people, until people paid them and told them to go away. Now it is completely different in Pakistan. Now people pay them to come and dance at weddings.
Owing to the fact that these kinds of people are usually poor and not educated, they become high class beggars and go from street to street, shouting loudly, asking for money. They openly hit on people on the streets and tease them, until you somehow manage to escape them. They have their own groups by which they plan which weddings to go to, which private shows to attend and how to rake in the money. Transgender people have got a very tough life, compared to lesbians, gays and bisexual individuals.
You would be walking in any street of Pakistan 10-20 years ago, but you would not be able to differentiate between normal people and these kinds of individuals. Those days’ people were not so open about their activities. In the Pakistan of today, people have been openly witnessed to display lesbian or gay tendencies in public spaces and transgender activities have increased as well. There was the case of the two lesbians who fell in love with one another and one of them went through sex change operation and got married with her lover, after becoming a man. There was a time when this kind of news wouldn’t even have come up; people are becoming bolder now and are up for taking risks and steps, like a sex change operation.
Talking about becoming bolder, the girls of Pakistan are taking up new Lesbian practices, which might be quite common in the west, but very new here, although their reasons for doing so are very different. Originally, Lesbianism in Pakistan was reserved for people who are lesbian. Now, it is being taken up by straight or bisexual girls as well. More and more straight girls in Pakistan are becoming bi-curious and exploring what the same sex has to offer. Apparently their reasons for doing so, is very much related to religion.
According to the religion Islam that the vast majority of the girls follow in Pakistan, it is not allowed to have Pre-Marital sex and the society still sees the concept of having Girlfriends/Boyfriends as taboo. It is something which happens, but has not yet been fully accepted and hasn’t assimilated in to the society. Having a boyfriend or a girlfriend is still seen as something shameful and is frowned upon in majority of Pakistan. Due to these factors, girls have adopted Lesbianism, even if it is temporarily, until they get married.
Girls in mostly posh areas in Lahore are known to approach other girls for sexual favours and this is because it is safe to be with girls, than guys. When you are with a girl, your hymen won’t break and you will still be a virgin; unless you go for sexual practices such as ‘fisting’, but those are more popular and known in the West. Straight or bisexual girls in Lahore, quench their desires by hooking up with other equally willing straight girls or in most cases with closet Lesbians. This is advantageous because their desires are being fulfilled and they won’t lose their virginity, for fear of being ridiculed when it comes to Marriage. People still look for virgin brides, even if their own son isn’t a virgin. Being a virgin is something prized upon and something to be proud of, in Pakistan.
In Karachi, gays are notorious for hitting on straight guys more openly in the streets now. It is more common to see gay couples holding hands too, or sitting at a restaurant together. Before, it was not so. Islamabad and other cities of Pakistan are not behind; when it comes to such practices and being open about such activities. Social Media has made it easy for the gays, lesbians and bisexuals to interact with one another. In the past, you wouldn’t even have known about other such individuals in your area, but now because of the Internet and various Social Media websites, such people have found one another and due to this, the activities have increased.
A Google web search for ‘Gays in Islamabad’ reveals so much. It gives out different websites where gays can look for other gays in their area and gay dating websites where gay men in Islamabad are seeking other gay men. It also tells us about a Gay Party at a McDonald’s. It can be noted, that a lot of other gay and lesbian parties are also conducted in various cities of Pakistan, but are kept underground. These kinds of individuals keep mum about their night time activities, but they do happen and such parties do exist.
In all honesty, what should be acknowledged is that these people exist and they are not garbage. Whether you interact with them or not, is another matter. These kinds of things do happen in Pakistan and it is the bitter truth, which not many people want to face. It is time to face the music. Pakistan is changing at a rapid pace. Not only population wise, but thinking wise too. We no longer are the same people. To think, none of this happens is a big folly. To think these kinds of people don’t exist or such activities don’t happen is also a mistake.
We are no longer dealing with cabaret dancers and prostitution gangs. We are no longer only reserved to Heera Mandi and rooftop dancing. A lot of other things are also happening now. Gays, lesbians, transgender and bisexuals are very much a part of the community, whether we like it or not. Society needs to accept this. Instead of propagating hate and lashing out criminal verdicts against such people, we need to do something about it. That something is yet to come to mind, however hate doesn’t solve anything. Treating any human being - no matter their sexual orientation - like an animal is not right. Asking them to not call themselves Pakistanis is not right. If a Christian can be a Pakistani, if a Sikh can be a Pakistani, then why can’t a Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual or a Transgender individual be a Pakistani?