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.