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.
The original version of this article, published June 5, did not include the information about the Faisalabad murders.
- Marching against homophobia in anti-gay Lesotho (76crimes.com)
- IDAHOT anti-hate campaign: Even in 20 anti-gay nations (76crimes.com)
- May 17 to boost free expression, even in 6 anti-gay nations (76crimes.com)
- The State of LGBT Rights Around The World (amnestyusa.org)
- World’s Largest LGBTI Solidarity Event, International Day Against Homophobia & Transphobia, to Take Place in Over 120 Countries on May 17th, 2014 (newsmaker.com.au)
- More arrests made in stoning death of Pakistani woman (edition.cnn.com)
- Dangers of Uganda, Pakistan would await LGBT deportees (76crimes.com)