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Update: LGBTI Pakistanis mourn 6 serial killer victims

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.)

Although they were in mourning,  the LGBTI communities in Pakistan this year celebrated the International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia (IDAHOT) for the first time.
The events came in the wake of distressing news about the murders of three gay Pakistanis by a serial killer in Lahore and the similar murders of three other gay Pakistanis by a serial killer in Faisalabad, Punjab.  News about the Lahore killings was publicized, but the Faisalabad murders were not. Information about them came only via the LGBT community there, according to the Naz Male Health Alliance.
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 and Faisalabad 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)

The original version of this article, published June 5, did not include the information about the Faisalabad murders.

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Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at info@76crimes.com. Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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