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4 Jul 2011

US Embassy in Islamabad accused of ‘cultural terrorism’ for hosting gay rights event

The US embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan reportedly held a LGBT Pride Celebration ceremony on June 26 which has since drew the ire of conservative Islamic groups with one deeming the event the second most dangerous attack by the US against Pakistan, following missiles fired from unmanned drones. 

Over 75 people including Mission Officers, U.S. military representatives, foreign diplomats, and leaders of Pakistani LGBT advocacy groups attended what has been described as the first ever LBGT pride celebration on June 26 hosted by the US Embassy in Islamabad, Pakistan. The event was hosted by the Chargé d’Affaires Ambassador Richard Hoagland and members of Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies (GLIFFA), according to a media statement posted on the embassy's website.

Ambassador Richard E. Hoagland greets guests at GLBT Pride celebration on June 26, 2011. Photo via islamabad.usembassy.gov

The statement read: "This gathering demonstrated continued U.S. Embassy support for human rights, including LGBT rights, inPakistan at a time when those rights are increasingly under attack from extremist elements throughout Pakistani society.

"In formal remarks, the Chargé underscored President Obama’s May 31, 2011 GLBT Pride Proclamation that, 'we rededicate ourselves to the pursuit of equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.'

"Addressing the Pakistani LGBT activists, the Chargé, while acknowledging that the struggle for GLBT rights in Pakistan is still beginning, said: 'I want to be clear: the U.S. Embassy is here to support you and stand by your side every step of the way.'"

The news of the meeting has meanwhile attracted the ire of conservative Islamic groups including one that includes the head of Pakistan's largest Islamic party, Jamaat-e-Islami, deeming the event the second most dangerous attack by the U.S. against Pakistan, following missiles fired from unmanned drones, reported the Associated Press.

The group described the US Embassy's support of gay rights in Pakistan as "cultural terrorism" against the country. "Such people are the curse of society and social garbage," said the statement issued by the Islamic officials on Sunday. "They don't deserve to be Muslim or Pakistani, and the support and protection announced by the U.S. administration for them is the worst social and cultural terrorism against Pakistan."

Pakistan's Nation newspaper on July 4 in a report titled "American Embassy stirs hornet’s nest in Islamabad" took political leaders to task for refusing to condemn or comment on the event and urged the government to seek an explanation from the "higher authorities in the US Embassy."

The report read: "The US Embassy’s involvement in the event at a time of rising anti-American sentiments in country has widely been condemned by the masses."

It also quoted a social activist, Mumtaz Naqvi, as saying: "Why would the US like to court a few engaged in an activity considered immoral in the country at the cost of the majority and then complain about Pakistanis being hostile to them. It must realise and respect laws of Pakistan which do not allow gay marriages and celebration at all."

Homosexual acts are illegal in Pakistan under Section 377 of the country's penal code although homosexuality is not explicitly mentioned. The law prohibits "carnal intercourse against the order of nature" and provides for a fine and/or imprisonment for a period of two years to life. Under the country's Sharia law, which was introduced in 1990, homosexual acts are punishable by whipping, imprisonment, or death, according to a report published by the Immigration and Refugee Board of Canada.


Reader's Comments

1. 2011-07-04 20:17  
Backwards and anti-progres societies are doomed to collapse as people and thier minds DO progress and develop by default. whoever is not up to date is buying himself a ticket OUT - so does pakistani government and religious freaks in their chairs.
2. 2011-07-04 20:43  
"He who rejects change is the architect of decay. The only human institution which rejects progress is the cemetery."
3. 2011-07-04 21:40  
"curse of society"? that's harsh.. :(
4. 2011-07-04 22:32  
im from pakistan and it true they are very backwards people...but hopefully time will change
5. 2011-07-04 22:41  
'Tis a silly place.
6. 2011-07-04 23:12  
Now I know y Osama had been living there comfortably...
7. 2011-07-04 23:24  
“The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” Martin Luther King, Jr.

we must continue the fight against discrimination of any kind...
8. 2011-07-05 02:30  
comment number 7, yes so true.

I applaud the US State Department and US Embassy to hold this event.

The question is: how many other US embassies in the world have had such events and if not, WHY?
9. 2011-07-05 03:48  
USA is still as a country that does not recognize gay marriage. Give it few more years, I am sure a victory will be there soon for LGBT. I respect the role of US Embassy's main business function is not promoting this kind of movement. It is up to the respective Ambassador to decide whether he or she wants to call for a party or not. He/She has to democratic right not to do so. After all, Federal laws do not recognize gay marriage yet.

No matter what. It was well done. Congratulations to Pakistan's LGBT people in Pakistan.
Comment #10 was deleted by its author on 2011-07-05 08:03
Comment #11 was deleted by its author on 2011-07-05 08:04
12. 2011-07-05 08:04  
Remind me never to set foot in Pakistan.
India yes, Pakistan no.
13. 2011-07-05 08:07  
You gotta hand it to them, though, one thing religious extremists (of all horizons) are usually good at is language hyperbole : this "cultural terrorism" is a pearl hahahahaha !!!
14. 2011-07-05 10:17  
Oh puh-leazz, the US didn't complain about Pakistani being hostile towards them because of that, I think, I might be wrong, but it could have been about Pakistan housing Bin Laden.

Huhhmm, I guess Pakistan see nothing wrong with "physical terrorism" but is offended by "cultural terrorism"??? Animals should not be taken seriously, they can't comprehend anything that requires deep forms of thinking.
Comment edited on 2011-07-05 10:23:21
15. 2011-07-05 11:03  
The muslims are at it again... They simply love to have someone to hate and to blame for all the fuckups that their insane religion causes. Before you know it they will be resorting to violence
16. 2011-07-05 11:26  
Pakistan is a really scary country. My heart goes out to anybody there who has to suffer because of religious lunatics. What kind of religion tries to prevent two people from loving each other?
17. 2011-07-05 12:01  
Interesting comments , but whatever reasons the political people have , we LGBT people should not forget to support the LGBT community in Pakistan cus at the end of the day they are the ones who are deprived from their basic human rights .. My heart goes for Pakistani gay community who are not just able to freely express themselves but constantly on the brink of being targeted by the Islamic Clerics however , some comments above saying not visiting Pakistan wouldn't help the cause or I should say our help by visiting the country and advocating the masses would certainly will bring the change someday though very difficult but will some day. I think it's very selfish simply telling people not visit such countries but again we are discriminating our own people simply by not visiting or providing the opportunity to express those people who are waiting to be helped .
18. 2011-07-05 13:07  
By saying "...curse of society and social garbage..." the Jamaat-e-Islami was more referring to themselves then others...
19. 2011-07-05 13:10  
The US is obviously trying to make a statement.... But I've a question for those who are in/from Pakistan or know the country well, does such a move by the US Embassy put the "ordinary" gay person in Pakistan at risk of a backlash?

It has been reported that some 100 demonstrators on Monday protested the event in the southern port city of Karachi, and there were similar demonstrations in the capital Islamabad and in Lahore. http://www.dawn.com/2011/07/04/protests-in-pakistan-over-us-gay-rights-event.html
20. 2011-07-05 14:36  
Quote #16 : "What kind of religion tries to prevent two people from loving each other?"
Answer : every religion.
Non-democratic (ie most) authorities, whether religious or political, aim at controlling people, and ALWAYS start by trying to submit their sexuality, because NATURAL sexuality is in essence unpredictable, chaotic, politically incorrect and subversive.

Denseaus (comment #15), your recurring anti-muslim intolerance and hysterical rantings are shocking, absurd, and show how dense you are indeed. Can't you see that it's precisely the likes of you who become radical Muslims (or Christians, or Hindus, or Communists or whatever). Can't you pull your brain out of your ass and let it breathe for a change ?
Comment edited on 2011-07-05 14:38:16
Comment #21 was deleted by its author on 2011-07-05 15:41
22. 2011-07-05 15:41  
Dear #20
I do not have religion. I lived in Thailand for 2 years and had few opportunities to talk to the monks in Buddhist temples about my sexual orientation. They did not condemn I am gay, neither they advised me to change to straight. They all said the same thing, this life you have a path to go through, no matter what path you are having, be compassion and love the people surrounding you. Do whatever is good to accumulate your Karma (mean positive credit) for your present life, loved ones and your next life. Basically they gave me prayer for the peace of my soul.

After you listen to my story, perhaps your answer should be changed to most religions do condemn gay lifestyles.

I like Buddhism but I do not like religion, so I remain free thinking. One of the best feelings when I associate with the monks, none of them had any interest to convert or asking me to be a Buddhist.

I met a very handsome young Thai monk and had a chance to talk to him. lol He is hot. lol He grew up in a Buddhist temple and just finished his degree from his Buddhism school. I asked him whether he will be in monkhood for the rest of his life. He replied, it was his calling to be a monk, it will be a calling if he decides one day to be an ordinary person (leave monkhood), which is allowed anytime freely as a Thai monk. No one condemn him if he decides to be an ordinary guy. lol I asked the question because he was so cute, what a waste for women and gays if he continued to be a monk for the rest of his life. lol He became an ordinary person after a year after I asked him. He lives in Bangkok now. I did not follow up, lol please do not ask me more. lol
Comment #23 was deleted by its author on 2011-07-05 19:28
24. 2011-07-05 19:48  
Hi Kazuki, you have a point, and thanks for the input.
Interestingly though, whether Buddhism should or should not be called a religion is a matter of great (and ancient) controversy. Google "is Buddhism a religion" and you'll see for yourself.
Two major factors are : it does not call for faith and does not invite its followers to convert others. This could well be the two reasons why it never incited any massacre either, and that alone makes it very precious to humanity.
Religions (and especially Islam) are often branded as evil on this comment board by angry people who point out how much harm is done in their name. But we have to acknowledge the fact that human beings are all too often eager to turn gold into lead and no matter what luminous message is brought to us, there will always be psychos who'll manage to turn it into a war weapon. So who should we blame ? the original message delivered by those who founded the great religions... or the power-greedy zealots who kidnap these messages and twist them into unrecognizable, war-mongering catechism ?
25. 2011-07-06 07:18  
I wonder if these moaning mullahs ever complain about Pakistan’s grinding poverty, corruption, mismanagement, child labour, child marriages, suicide bombers, etc etc. I wonder if they ever suspect that all those boys in all those madrasas memorizing sacred scriptures (in Arabic) for years and years are not really well-prepared for the modern world. I wonder if they make any connection between their hidebound religious ideology and the poverty and desperation around them. Hmmmm.
Comment #26 was deleted by its author on 2011-07-06 08:00
27. 2011-07-06 08:00  
Dear # 24
You are welcome. We are here to share our personal opinions. Good to participate, otherwise it will be boring. lol
28. 2011-07-06 21:30  
#25: Will these 'moaning mullahs' be brave enough to look into a mirror - without projecting what they see on 'the evil, corrupt west'???
29. 2011-07-06 23:11  
I wonder how they're getting on with the problem of sexual and physical abuse in religious schools (madrassas) over there. A politician who raised this serious issue in 2004 was met with death threats from the religious crowd.

Is it these same people that think having a reception at an embassy to support human rights for consenting adults is cultural terrorism?

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