LGBTI Pakistanis mourn murder victims, gain solidarity

Candlelight vigil provided time to mourn for gay victims of serial killer. (Photo courtesy of Naz Male Health Alliance)
Candlelight vigil provided time to mourn for gay victims of serial killer. (Photo courtesy of Naz Male Health Alliance. Participants approved the publication of this photo.)

This year, for the first time, the LGBTI communities in Pakistan celebrated the International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia (IDAHOT).
The events came in the wake of distressing news about the serial-killer murders of gay Pakistanis.
A total of 420 LGBT people and allies took part in the IDAHOT events, which were planned by the Naz Male Health Alliance for five of Pakistan’s major cities — Lahore, Karachi, Rawalpindi, Larkana and Hyderabad — that are served by the alliance.
Discussions focused on human rights violations, community empowerment, strengthening inter­‐community support and the legal challenges faced by the LGBT community in the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Community members shared their personal experiences and stories of personal motivation, courage and strength.
In Lahore, IDAHOT participants acted out a scene of discrimination faced by a transgender woman at the hands of her boyfriend. Observers said it was so heart-wrenching that most in attendance were moved to tears.
A candlelight memorial for six gay murder victims from Lahore provided LGBT community members an opportunity to mourn the loss of some of their own.
The legal system in Pakistan is a mix of Sharia and colonial laws in which any sexual activity out of marriage is illegal.  On the secular side of Pakistani law, intercourse between men is punishable by a life sentence.
In order to escape stigma and discrimination from society on the grounds of sexual orientation, LGBT community members typically hide their sexual orientation and gender identity from the general public. This leads to social isolation, violence, harassment, stigmatization by society and self-stigmatization.
IDAHOT participants in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, who gave their permission for publication of this photo. (Photo courtesy of Naz Male Health Alliance)
IDAHOT participants in Rawalpindi, Pakistan, who gave their permission for publication of this photo. (Photo courtesy of Naz Male Health Alliance)

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Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, Erasing 76 Crimes. Contact him at [email protected]

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