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Ali, a gay man who lives in Lahore, is in a support group for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender Pakistanis. “The gay scene here is very hush-hush,” he says.
Gay Pakistanis, Still in Shadows, Seek Acceptance

in PAKISTAN, 04/11/2012

Homosexual acts remain illegal in Pakistan, based on laws constructed by the British during colonial rule. No civil rights legislation exists to protect gays and lesbians from discrimination. But the reality is far more complex, more akin to “don’t ask, don’t tell” than a state-sponsored witch hunt. For a long time, the state’s willful blindness has provided space enough for gays and lesbians. They socialize, organize, date and even live together as couples, though discreetly.

“The biggest hurdle,” Ms. Jilani said, “is finding the proper context in which to bring this issue out into the open.” That is what the gay and lesbian support group in Lahore is slowly seeking to do, even if it still meets in what amounts to near secrecy.

O conducts research into lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues, provides legal advice and has helped remove people from difficult family situations, and in one case a foreign-operated prostitution ring. The group has made a conscious decision to focus its efforts on the dynamic of family and building social acceptance and awareness rather than directly tackling legal discrimination.

Their current fight is not to overturn Article 377 of the Pakistan Penal Code, on “Unnatural Offenses,” but to influence parents’ deciding whether or not to shun their gay child. They see this approach as ultimately more productive.

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