July 4, 2011
US Embassy hosts Pride celebrations in Pakistan
The US Embassy in Islamabad has attracted criticism from Pakistani religious leaders after holding an LGBT Pride celebration.
The event “demonstrated continued US Embassy support for human rights, including LGBT rights, in Pakistan at a time when those rights are increasingly under attack from extremist elements throughout Pakistani society,” according to a press release posted on the Embassy’s website.
Embassy officials, US military representatives, foreign diplomats and Pakistani LGBT campaigners attended the Pride celebrations on 26 June.
“I want to be clear: the U.S. Embassy is here to support you and stand by your side every step of the way,” announced Chargé d’Affaires Ambassador Richard Hoagland.
The Embassy’s actions have been condemned by a number of religious organisations during the last week. “Any religion including Islam, Christianity and Hinduism does not allow homosexuality,” said Munawar Hassan, leader of the Muslim political party Jamaat-I-Islami.
“Being a Muslim state, Pakistan follows Islamic rules and regulations, which strictly forbade gay, lesbian marriages and celebrations. The government should ask the higher authorities in the US Embassy what made them hold this controversial ceremony when they knew such act is not permitted in an Islamic country.”
Indian daily The Hindustan Times stated that the Embassy’s move was welcomed by a number of LGBT bloggers in Pakistan.
“I am here to inform the world and [Pakistani representative to the United Nations] Zamir Akram [...] that homosexuals do exist in Pakistan and that we demand our rights to love people of our own gender or even change our gender when we feel necessary to do so,” declared blogger Nuwas Manto.
Gay sex was outlawed in Pakistan during British colonial rule and remains illegal.
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