My first reaction to reading about the recent protest against the LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) people in Pakistan yet again was: What the duck! And then I heard a quack and thought: That’s a really slow bleeper. But that’s not what this article is about.
On February 13, the United Nations (UN) Human Rights Council held a planning meeting, during which the Libyan representative, objecting to the council’s first panel on discrimination and violence based on sexual orientation, scheduled for March 7, said something that could only be termed as obtuse. He told the ambassadors that LGBT topics “affect religion and the continuation and reproduction of the human race.”
What! The LGBT people aren’t trying to change any religious laws. And the very idea that they could be a threat to the human race is preposterous. In any case, according to the UN, the world’s human population has already exceeded 7 billion. How many people do you need? The human race is a threat to itself. And the only kind of people that could affect religion are what one of my cousins likes to call “Allah mian kay PA” (God’s personal assistants).
In the council meeting, Pakistan on behalf of the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) also protested the upcoming panel. The Pakistani representative said the OIC’s 56 UN member states do not recognise LGBT rights as fundamental human rights.
Not surprisingly, an unregistered religious organisation has launched a campaign against homosexuality in Pakistan. Their demands include preventing the United States-backed GLIFAA (Gays and Lesbians In Foreign Affairs Agencies) and GLSEN (Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network) from working for the rights of homosexuals in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad. In a recent demonstration, one of the protesters said his organisation was waging a “war against homosexuals” and compared homosexuality to an “epidemic”.
Uninformed people like him need to know that homosexuality isn’t a disease or a fad. Homosexuality has always been a part of the human culture. The Mesolithic rock art in Sicily is the earliest (as early as 9,660 BC) surviving record of homosexuality. By the way, homosexual and bisexual behaviour isn’t exclusive to humans. It exists in around 1,500 animal species. Read the Canadian biologist Bruce Bagemihl’s ‘Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity’, which was also cited in the 2003 United States Supreme Court Lawrence v/s Texas case as evidence that homosexual behaviour is natural. The result of the case? The court repealed the sodomy law in Texas and, by proxy, quashed sodomy laws in 13 other states as well.
Anyway, I decided to ask the local conservatives a very important question: What gives? Consequently, I logged into Facebook – that’s where all the conservatives hang out; if you’re looking for the liberals, they’ve moved to Twitter. I found a member of a religious organisation, which has been a part of protests against the LGBTs. I had to “friend” him because Facebook chat was the only place he would talk to me. Let’s call him JM (Jalebi Mullah). Why? You’ll soon find out.
When I told JM that there are other issues – real issues – that need rallying, he wrote, “There’s nothing more important than this issue! Our religion is in danger because of LGBTs!” While I was typing my next question, my Facebook wall updated and displayed a video shared “2 seconds ago” by JM. It was that ‘Jalebi Bai’ song! I deleted the question that I was typing because I had something more pressing to ask him now. “Did you just share the Jalebi Bai song?” I said. “Yeah, bro. I’m a big fan. You can call me Jalebi Mullah. LOL. LMAO. ROTFLMAO,” he said.* I told him he didn’t have to throw every ‘laughing’ acronym at me. He didn’t get it.
JM asked me if I was gay. When I denied, he said, “Why are you supporting the LGBTs if you aren’t even one of them?” I asked him if he was a Pakistani. He said, “Yes.” I asked him if he supported the Kashmiris. “Yes.” Palestinians? “Yes.” Why was he supporting the Kashmiris and the Palestinians when he’s a Pakistani, I asked. He didn’t get it.
He was visibly starting to get irritated, though. “You’re an LGBT! I know you are!” he said. It was my turn to LOL, LMAO and ROTFLMAO – and I had a valid reason for doing all three! When my gales of laughter ended, I said to JM, “Dude, I can’t be all four of them at the same time, and certainly not a lesbian!”
What he asked me next was unnerving. He said, “Why?” These people – supposed guardians or champions of religion – don’t know why a man can’t be a lesbian, that homosexuality or bisexuality is natural, that the Pakistani society is threatened more by men eve-teasing women – which men never rally against – than the LGBTs minding their own business. It makes me feel uncomfortable that these people have the power to influence so many illiterate and educated-illiterate minds. I gave the mindless JM a piece of my mind. He didn’t like it. He said, “Angraiz [white people] have messed with your mind. They’ve done it with their language, their philosophy, their lifestyle, their concepts… You’re touched in the head. F*** YOU!” And then he went offline. Quack! Late again.
I thought maybe he’ll realise how hypocritical it was to tell me that “angraiz” have messed with my mind through their language and then curse me in their language. I was right. He came back online and apologised for swearing at me. I also thought maybe he’s not so dumb after all. I was wrong. What he said to me next was something that Google Translate interpreted as “camel piss drinker” in Arabic. And then he went offline again – or probably just blocked me this time.
But not everyone I talked to was like JM. Bored Kid, another member of the organisation JM is affiliated with, talked about the real reasons religious organisations rally. “It’s got nothing to do with religion or protecting religion or anything remotely of the sort. Everything we do is politically motivated. Leaders of such organisations have political ambitions, while the rest of the members are duped into thinking they’re doing something for the greater good. That’s just bull!” When I asked why he was a member, he said he signed up to escape boredom. “It’s quite funny actually, the things they do, their slogans and everything. They’re a bunch of liars and hypocrites!” he said. “And what are you?” I said. He got it. Didn’t like it. Went offline (or blocked me).
After talking to several not-so-straight people, I realised all they want is the moral brigade to stop acting as God and judging them before the Day of Judgement. A bisexual woman from Karachi said, “Among their countless reiterations of underlining the principles of peace and tolerance in Islam, I have yet to see its adherents demonstrate just one example of tolerance to LGBTs.” Seeing the way things are right now, I fear she might have to wait a long time… I feel thirsty now. While you ponder everything you’ve read here, I’ll go have a glass of camel piss.
* For the small, diminishing percentage of people that haven’t the slightest idea about internet lingo (yes, Mom, I’m talking about you): LOL means Laughing Out Loud; LMAO means Laughing My A** Off; and ROTFLMAO means Rolling On The Floor Laughing My A** Off
Graphic designed by Adnan Hussain and Asim Noor