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28 September 2012
Secret world of Pakistan
Nepal was the first country in south Asia decriminalization of homosexuality and the only to allow same sex marriage. Followed by India in 2009, although gay marriage is on the back burner. Both countries have made it easier to be free of repression, though socially life is still hard, and many still live in fear. Though socially change is slowly happening on views on homosexuality and people of the third gender. Pakistan has somewhat made its way to the middle. Legally homosexuality is still banned since 1860, and the law has yet to be repealed. Since the law has been in effect for so long there is social disapproval towards gays and other sexual minorities. Pakistan is officially an Islamic republic, however practices mixed laws inherited from the British. As a result increasing liberalization trends and globalization and social tolerance. There have been many public gay parties taking place in the country and parties have been thriving for a number of years. With some progression in upper and middle class; Pakistan still does not have any civil rights laws to prohibit discrimination or harassment, and there is no legal recognition of same sex marriage or civil union. While the LGBT community has not formally begun to campaign for LGBT rights. However there is growing tolerance for social gatherings of gay men, in the cities and is seen as a historical move. In 2009, the Supreme Court of Pakistan ruled in favor of the civil rights of transsexual citizens.
Recently, Pakistan has seen an unprecedented explosion of "Queer Culture" and urban gay life style. With this new transformation of queer culture and gender roles have become increasingly visible in urban Pakistani males, with the rise of metro-sexuality. Metro-sexuality is nothing but liberalization of gender identities and roles. The things considered to be taboo for masculinity have gained acceptance in increasingly larger number of males. Fashion that once considered to be identification for gay men have become mainstream urban male fashion. More men are wearing low rise jeans, bright and exotic colours, necklaces, rings, and waxing, which all can he traced to attire of underground gays in 1960's London. The media has also become increasingly aware of the value of the male figure. Many music videos have emerged. Pakistanis consciously or unconsciously to celebrate queer themes from western media. For the past few years gay culture has grown, while the impact has been strong on culture but political expression has been virtually non existent. BBC has noted that homosexuality is better of in Pakistan due to "don't ask don't tell" policy; that is a result of an age old tradition of tolerated social taboos and lack of political activism.
Television has also seen a slight change with the success of Ali Saleem and the emergence of "Begum Nawazish Ali" his alter ego. Ali's show subverts and challenges a lot of normal's and taboos of Pakistani society, and has become tolerated and even celebrated to an extent. Ali is known somewhat of a post modern phenomenon, that exhibits ambivalence not only to gender but also sexual orientation. In the show Ali, dresses up as a woman to become Begum Nawazish Ali, and flirts with cute lads that are searching for a bride. Ali has described himself as being bisexual, but sometimes refers himself as gay or "try-sexual", currently he is rarely seen as male but as a woman. With the phenomenon of Ali Saleem, and the media's growing acceptance and tolerance as well as the efflux of many young men who have studied in the west, have helped increase awareness of gay as an identity. Various "underground" gay events and parts arise in urban area like Karachi, Lahore, and Islamabad, reported in the Guardian UK: "Under a starry sky filled with fireworks, about 150 gay men clambered to the roof of an apartment building for an exuberant party. Bollywood music spilled into the streets as dress-wearing men twisted and whirled flamboyantly. Some older men with mustaches and wearing traditional shalwar kameez stared silently from the sidelines. But most of the party goers were in their 20's, dressed in jeans and t-shirt and looking for a good time. "We just want to have fun," said one of the organizers, known as the "hot boyz'" While the guardian has only reported on "one" gay party, dozens happen and are easier to orchestrate due to cell phones and internet access, sites like Facebook and planet Romeo have not only formed a community but also made it easier for cruising. While there are dozens of cruising spots in major cities like Lawrence gardens in Lahore and Eypo center in Karachi. This internet explosion has transformed the urban Pakistani gay culture, making it introverted, safe and "invisible". There exist numerous of forums, online communities and websites. An anonymous spectator said "this new culture has caused a devastating blow to "gay liberation" because most urban gays don't feel a need to be "liberated."
Urban middle class phenomenon, exist because of a very strong traditions, the society as a whole is more tolerant to same gender showing affection. A lot of homo-eroticism is evident in society raging from "horse play" and "male bonding". Two sources indicate that cultured practices that displays of affection between members of the same gender, make it possible for gay men to socialize without attracting attention. However homosexuality is silently accepted in Pakistan assaults on gays are rare, in the countries north west frontier province is apparently well known that ethnic Pashtun men, take young boy's as lovers which is a practice now deeply embedded in local culture.
In Pakistan while the upper and middle class created a sort of "gay utopia" the real plight of Pakistan has drowned in gay activity, because the upper class has always lived a underground life. While Ali Saleem interviews interview and rub shoulders with the most powerful and pious of Pakistanis. However the majority "cross dresser" community of Pakistan, the hijras lead the life of poverty, shame, and humiliation. The urban middle class boys easily live a dual life of marrying a girl and dancing in a gay party at night. But the poor gay men in smaller cities, and villages live in hell of denial, temptation, torture, suicide, and murder. The result of this conflicts between religious fanaticism or personalization and death. Pakistanis gay life is divided while upper middle class has more freedoms lower still live in fear or family finding out of there sexuality, bring shame to the family name or death from a family member. Although life is slowly getting better everything is still in secret. Leave your comments below! Thanks for reading!!!
>Source: http://perfumechowk.blogspot.com (Shaheryar Ali); UNHCR: A report into state of homosexuality in Pakistan.