Jul 3, 2011 - USA    16 Comments

LGBT rights, brought to you by Uncle Sam

So the United States Embassy hosted first ever LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual &transgender) Pride Celebration in Islamabad last week and somehow it ended up being the front page news in Jang’s Rawalpindi edition. 
According to the press release issued by the embassy, the event demonstrated continued U.S. Embassy support for human rights, including LGBT rights, in Pakistan at a time when those rights are increasingly under attack from extremist elements throughout Pakistani society.  
Now don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against LGBT people and I truly believe everyone has the right to live according to their own wishes but something does not feel right with US embassy hosting this event. For starters, LGBT rights are one of the most divisive and hotly debated issues in US. There is no recognition of same-sex unions and no laws forbidding employment discrimination against LGBT persons at the federal level. Yes, some states have enacted laws for LGBT persons and same sex marriages conducted in those states are recognized in other states, but there is no uniform federal policy. I personally know a few American LGBT citizens who have moved to Canada, Belgium and Netherlands for more personal freedom.
I find it kind of ironic that a country which cannot assure equal rights to its own LGBT citizens and where Christian Right is getting increasingly aggressive against civil privileges of LGBT persons and a woman’s right to abortion is showing support to LGBT movement against the religious right in another country.
I also find it odd that an event that took place on June 26th 2011 gets reported a week later on July 3rd on the front page of the largest selling Urdu newspaper. Does it not raise too many questions? Is it not inviting trouble for the LGBT persons in the country? I mean everyone gets labeled US agent in a jiffy and declaring LGBT persons US agents can kind of legitimize their persecution. Is it not stirring things up on purpose? Do people think LGBT movement (if we have any) in Pakistan would be better off without foreign support or do they think foreign donors are the only way LGBT persons can gain acceptance? 
Does it all look fishy or am I a paranoid psycho who, after living in Pakistan for so long, cannot take anything like it seems any more.
PS: For a newspaper that uses the term liberal fascists against progressive folks a little too liberally; this news report is remarkably neutral. 
PPS: Jang wrote ‘bisexual’ in Urdu letters as ‘high sexual’ which I found rather entertaining. 
Clip to Evernote


  • Here is The Newsreport which was on the backpage, highlighted in a red box. Delaying the report until the day with highest circulation is of course deliberate here. Their intentions, obvious. Neutrality in language and merely copy pasting the press release with any Ansar Abbasi-ness in between seems to be like trying to avoid any rejoinder from the Embassy if Abbasi were to write that the US is destroying the moral fabric of the country.

  • it would be better tazeen if you would write something about the need for LGBT rights in our country and the daily abuse and ridicule faced by lgbt people.except for ET no one else in the media,even the “liberal” bloggers have not written anything about this.agree with ur point about media labelling lgbt ppl as american agents now.

  • in our society islamic homophobia is rampant.look at facebook and you’ll be horrified to see that 90% of the so-called educated,english speaking,internet savvy ppl are virulently homophobic and their basis is islamic fascism.they are all foaming at the mouth at amreeka’s attempt to subvert islam and they pretend homosexuality is an american or magrabhi safaqat.
    wake up and come out of your caves ppl,gays and lesbians are present and have been present always in every society including muslim ones.when will you neanderthals get it through your skulls that homosexuality is as normal as heterosexuality.

  • does anyone know jahanzeb haque,saba imtiaz or mirza9 of express tribune? why has ET’s comments moderator gone to the extreme right since the last 6 days? have they changed employees and someone is being a comments nazi or is this ET’s new editorial policy that no secular or liberal thought will be tolerated in comments section? i’ve had simple comments without any abusive words,without any racist slurs being rejected while the few pro-religion comments i submitted as an experiment were printed immediately.jhaque take note,your webdesk has been hijacked by religious fanatics who want are censoring all secular thougt.

  • I support LGBT rights completlely however I totally have to agree to what you’re saying. How tactless can these people be really? Utterly idiotic

  • See, this is what I was afraid of, religious parties going after LGBT persons because they are supported by the Americans. As if we have no real issues to go after like Bijli and Pani.



  • don’t know if my earlier comment got through,but since tazeen you know jhaque,saba,mirza on twitter could you ask them why their comment moderator has gone all fundoo and extreme rightwing.why is he/she blocking all secular comments.if there’s no abuse,no racism then ET should let it through.ET’s web editor should investigate this.

  • The best is the enemy of the good.—Voltaire.

    If someone is waiting for US to become perfect before human rights can be improved elsewhere – that sounds like an anti-human rights stance.

    The truth of the matter is that when women’s and LGBT rights are respected, all of society is improved.

    The same is true in the private sector, with the most competitive companies in US having clear protections for women and sexual minorities. Good ethics is good business.

  • Hi anonymous,

    Tell me the particular comment(s) via email web@tribune.com.pk and I’ll go through our trash folder and take a look. Your feedback is appreciated, but no, there are no ‘extremists’ on the desk. Do take a look at our comment moderation policy too: http://tribune.com.pk/comments-policy

    Awaiting your mail!

    Web Editor,
    The Express Tribune

  • I agree with you. It is kinda high-handed of the US to have that event in a country that’s still got no clue about the freedom of speech, let alone sexual orientation.

    Hint. Salman Taseer.

  • It sure is pretty ironic! I came across archbishop Dolen’s comments on the matter legalizing gay marriages and this is what he said, “.. then where would we stop? “If this bill passes what next?” “What if a father wants to marry his daughter? Or a brother and sister want to marry each other?” That’s what the archbishop said.

  • this is all too daunting for my single grey cell:) Hello Tazeen!
    do u remember me?
    probably this post might help…


  • LGBT is being used by west to infiltrate third world state Organs where these LGBT people practise their sex in hiding.When Indian Health minister stated the Obvious about LGBT being a western import , the usual media supported by western money bags pounced upon him.The Human rights group supported by heigher judiciary is also part of the game in India.

  • LGBT rights *is* a real issue, it’s not really a far off Western thing and homosexuality does exist in Pakistan closing our eyes to it doesn’t really make it go away.

    We don’t really need to look at the US before we decide to enforce human rights laws. I’m sure we’ve all heard stories of violence against gay people and gay men and eunuchs being raped and it really does make ones heart go out to these marginalized people.

    The only opposition to LGBT rights comes from the homophobic, the ignorant and those who hide behind Islamic scripture condemning homosexuality as evil and unnatural who do not realize that sexual orientation, like religion, is a personal choice.

  • Tazeen I agree with you as I recently expressed the same concern. If we want to create a successful movement then it should be indigenous instead of the west sponsored.

    Second, I also said in one of my blogs that LGBT don’t enjoy absolute rights in the United States (at the federal level) so that event held at the US Embassy Isb. was quite personal in nature and didn’t reflect the views of the US federal govt. Perhaps one reason why it didn’t grab media’s attention earlier.

  • So did our famous Gays Nadeem Paracha and Mohsin Syed attend the party? Also what about the lesbos? Tazeen, you might know few? share with us

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