“Invisibility” and “Silence” are the hallmark of  fascist societies. A national stereotype is built and than implemented through ideological and coercive apparatuses  of the state. Gender is an important battle ground in these “nation-building” projects. A section of Pakistan’s founding fathers was already obsessed with “Super-man”, it was recycled as “Merd-e-Momin” of Iqbal during times of General Zia-ul-Haq when Pakistan and United States were creating stunned merd-e-momins to fight the infidel Russia. Destroying a staunchly modern  republic of Afghanistan, and purging all liberal-secular thought from Pakistan [where it existed as “Reds”], were only side effects of this policy. The creation of a hyper-masculine gender stereotype of “Merd” Momin” and “Mujahid” as being the stranded criteria for being a “Pakistani” was the main ideological catastrophe of his time. It was a time of systematic gendericide which was done with approval of “liberal” western democracies like UK and USA who supported Zia-ul-Haq and his ruthless islamization. It was also the time of one of the most glorious Leftist-feminist resistance against Imperialism and Islamic fascism. Feminist-leftist poets like Fehmida Riaz and Kishwer Naheed were put on trial for high treason and had to escape from the country. The feminist discourse took a sharp radical turn but its impact of general Pakistani society cant be felt even today because of the state’s selective gender policies. With these policies , women, transgendered , homosexuals and even str8 men who didnt subscribe to “Tripple M” formula, the Merd, Mujahid and Momin slowly became invisible from society. What does it mean to be “different” in terms of gender and sexuality in Islamic Republic of Pakistan is very important to understand.  These people have a very vibrant but invisible existence in Pakistan. They are all around us, but we dont see. Invisibility has given them security to live a life otherwise impossible in the Islamic Republic, to make websites and to throw parties . The cost is to become a non-being, to wear a giant cloak of invisibility of dont-ask-dont-tell. The result on society as a whole is disastrous, its becoming more monolithic than ever. Recent Supreme Court’s decisions has declared transgendered people “disabled”. The silence and invisibility paved the roads to Auschwitz. Those who were gassed were not only Jews and commies but also gays and “disabled”

Shaheryar Ali

Nuwas Manto gives a touching personal account on what it means to be gay in a deeply religious and conservative country like Pakistan, where homosexuality is considered a sin and male effeminacy scoffed upon.The article was published in The Pink Pages , India’s fist Gay magazine. Mr Manto hails from Lahore, the self designated cultural hub of  Islamic Republic of Pakistan. He is a young student who defines himself as a “secular-humanist” and he blogs at A Pakistani-Humanist Blog.

Being Gay in Pakistan

Nuwas Manto

In Pakistan the word ‘gay’ is synonymous with the word ‘eunuch’. It doesn’t really matter whether you have a penis or not. One of my friends quite sincerely, in order to identify my sexual orientation, asked me if I get erected and if I ejaculate. Upon receiving a positive response he thereby concluded there is no way that I can be gay. Of course, it doesn’t matter if one gets erected while watching gay porn or straight porn. That has nothing to do with his sexuality. Poor Kinsey. Such an easy and traditional method to identify sexuality and he spent years on research!

But this unscientific approach towards human sexuality is not limited only to my friend, but to a majority of Pakistanis, who view Islam and homosexuality as being mutually incompatible. It’s none of their business what the heck science has to say when it comes to diversity in sexual orientation. What matters is the word of Allah, the Supreme Being. I am not trying to be anti-religion, but anti-Irrationalism. Twenty years ago, it was a rare sight to see a woman driving on the roads of Lahore. Today it’s impossible not to see one, or else you are not in Pakistan. But even today if a woman gets divorced, or worse, if she demands a divorce she is considered to be a shame, in the former case, or a slut, in the latter. According to a family friend of mine, those women who can’t be good housewives can’t be good women at all. So, I guess those men who can’t be good husbands can’t be good men too. Hey wait! World, we are out of good men in Pakistan!

But of course, men are men. You see, there is no harm if straight men penetrate into the backs of these filthy gay men. After all, they are the ones penetrating, not being penetrated into. In Pakistan there is no concept of diversity in homosexuality: ‘Top’, ‘bottom’, ‘versatile’. Every gay man is a bottom. I myself, seemed to believe this till I met some who really were not. Due to lack of knowledge concerning the field of human sexuality, there is a belief that homosexuality is based upon lust, not love. That is the information that heterosexist minds are fed upon. In my country, as I explained before, there is no difference between a eunuch (hijra) and a homosexual man (not gay woman). Therefore if you get into a fight with a gay man there is always the best way to insult him. This most astonishing word that the founders of the Urdu language ever created: Khusra! I have become used to hearing it. During school, because of my effeminacy was made fun of. My family has always been, and I guess will always go on to till I don’t change myself, tell me how I should become more manly. How I should talk, walk, speak, eat, hold the glass, and the list goes on. I am told that I can’t be open about my sexual orientation because that would bring shame to my family. After coming out and writing openly on facebook about my sexual orientation and my non-religiosity, my brother sent me a furious message from the UK telling me to better mend my ways before he kills me for defaming the name of my father .Of course many homosexuals take their own life! When your family is not supportive, when some of your friends hold on to you (but still view homosexuality as a disease they must tolerate), when many people who are in a process of becoming good friends of yours stop talking to you the very next day after you told you’re gay, there seems to be no other way out but to kill yourself.

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Muslim Gay Pride,London

But then that sort of humiliation is not limited to your enemies only, but also extends to your family. Whenever there is a fight between me and my sisters, they have one word to shut me up. Yes! You guessed it right: Gay. Why am I telling you my story while my task was to inform my Indian friends about the gay subculture in Pakistan? Well, my story speaks for many. However I am still lucky. I know what gay rights are. I know what I must demand from this world. I know it’s okay to be gay, and although I am an Atheist now, I also know that it’s okay to be gay and Muslim at the same time. I have done research on Islam and homosexuality to some extent and so I believe that homosexuals can live peacefully in the Islamic world only if the interpretations of the story of Lot are done in a way that is devoid of bigotry and hatred.

But many homosexuals don’t know that. They are happy to be gay and perform namaz five times a day as long as there is no mention of homosexuality and the name of Islam together, whether in a homophobic tone, or in that of advocacy. If that happens they are torn between sexuality and religion, both of which are equally important in a man’s life. You must not be surprised when I tell you that when I talked about re-interpretation of the Quran in order to reconcile homosexuality and Islam, there is no way they can digest such an idea. How can all the Ulema be wrong? And more importantly, there seems to be such a crystal clear mention of homosexuality as a sin in the Quran. Guess what, there is no word for homosexuality in the book! The words used to describe it are anything but ‘homosexuality’. The closest that it comes to is the incident where Lot asks the people whether they would give up the woman that God had given them, for men (his guests, who were Angels in reality subsequently came to inform him of his near destruction). Now there can be various interpretations of that. But even when you ask you anti-gay or confused homosexual friends to quote where in the Quran there is a direct reference to homosexuality, and when they are unable to do so, they find it hard to absorb the information. Okay, I understand. Twenty years of radical anti-gay brainwashing isn’t going away in a day or two. But what really piques me is the fact that in order to defend their religion orientated homophobia, my people would even go on to defy scientific evidence.

But not all is bad. More and more people now believe that gays should have rights to a proper life too, although not in a large numbers. Again, as long as homosexuality and religion are not brought face to face, people won’t be ready to tolerate homosexuality. Now when homosexuality is discussed in relation to Islam, there is an obvious defensive behaviour. What is really funny is that these same people forget their Allah’s divine anti-gay verses when they are offered a blowjob! I have tested at least two guys who went to lengths to explain to me why Allah hates homosexuals. But when I offered to have sex with them , they didn’t lose a second to accept it. (Of course I didn’t have sex with them. I have some self-respect you know!)

The female homosexual scene is almost non-existent. Lesbians seem to not exist at all. Therefore they can be saved from the general wrath of society when they dress like boys and act like one. There is no concept of tomboyish girls being lesbians, although there is a strong notion that all effeminate men are gays and all gays are effeminate (something that I must admit even I used to believe at one point of time). But returning to the discussion of Pakistani gay woman, I seldom hear about a lesbian, and have never heard about an out and proud one. But my poor sisters suffer from two kinds of discrimination: based upon both gender and sexual orientation.

My Indian friends must have noted that Pakistani Gay sub-culture is not much different from that of the Indian one, nor are our fears, hopes and everyday toils. Therefore, we must erase the international borderlines with love and respect towards one another, and work towards helping our brothers and sisters live a life of bliss regardless of their nationality, sexuality, religion, or ethnicity.

KJ

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By Michael T. Luongo
April 29 – May 5, 2004
Gay City News
New York, New York

With thanks: Global Gayz.Com

Many travel writers concentrate on beaches, pools, and colored cocktails in sunset lounges.I have done all of that for sure, but last fall I found myself in Afghanistan, a nation at the center of the upheaval and change roiling the world.

I’ve had a curiosity about Afghanistan since childhood that began with the 1979 Soviet invasion. Breshnev-era images of tanks rolling over mountains and the brave Afghans defending their homeland on horseback have stayed with me my whole life.Yet, I also live in New York, whose history is now forever linked with Afghanistan.

A few days after September 11, I was on a Ground Zero bucket brigade clean-up crew. Our task was clearing debris from a fire truck on what had been the West Side Highway. It was only for one day, and I only had the opportunity to be there because my brother-in-law is a police officer and got me access.Surrounded by the acres of rubble that were once the Twin Towers, I thought about my intense interest in Afghanistan and resolved to travel there in the hopes of better understanding what had happened here.

Most Americans have shunned international travel since 9/11, but for me the tragedy instilled a sense of camaraderie with war-torn areas. I felt that New York had become a war-torn city myself, so visiting another didn’t seem daunting to me. In the two years between 9/11 and my visit to Afghanistan, my curiosity about the country’s gay life was also piqued. I frequently ran across articles hinting at widespread traditional Afghan acceptance of homosexuality. The New York Times mentioned boys covered in make-up who greeted U.S. soldiers.

peopleDetails magazine discussed the homosocial standards of much of Islamic culture, based on separation of the genders, and reviewed Trolley Press’ 2003 book “Taliban,” in which photographer Thomas Dworzak presented images of effeminate Taliban warriors that he unearthed.

I also read “An Unexpected Light,” by British adventurer Jason Elliot, which discussed war-weary Afghan men who expressed delight about his soft skin when he visited during the Russian invasion.All these works, and others, however, were compiled by straights who wavered between curiosity and repulsion at the phenomena they discussed.

To the best of my knowledge, no gay Westerner had infiltrated gay Afghan life. I decided I would be the one to do this. But every Afghan American I knew was worried about the prospect of my traveling to their country on such a mission, especially the members of the Afghan-American Peace Corps, formed by members of the Afghan Diaspora living in New York who wanted to aid their homeland in the wake of 9/11.

As I planned my trip in consultation with AAPC members, they backed out of their mission to bring cows they would purchase in Pakistan to widows in rural Afghan regions for safety reasons. In the end somewhat reluctantly I traveled alone, relying on contacts given me by friends.My fears, and those of my Afghan American friends, proved unfounded.

By the fall of 2003, Kabul was relatively safe. I often wandered the streets alone, even after nightfall. Most Kabulites were happy to meet foreigners, especially Americans. The city was rapidly rebuilding with new shops sprouting next to piles of rubble. There was even a tourist district along Chicken Street where souvenir and rug vendors sought the attention of soldiers, foreign workers, diplomats, and the odd backpacker.

To be sure, all of this vitality was mixed with children begging, legless mine victims on crutches, and women who remained true to the tradition of wearing burqas. But, Kabul was undoubtedly undergoing a revolution of investment and modernization, post-Taliban. I also found that homosexuality easily came up in conversation, even with some government officials. An Afghan national who worked in a Western embassy but only wanted to be identified by his first name, Mohammed, gave me historical background on the topic. Certain Afghan tribes, he explained, especially the Uzbeks and Pashtuns, were known for male sexual behavior.

The city with the greatest reputation for active homosexuality was Kandahar, the headquarters of the Taliban. According to Mohammed, male couples “were even holding wedding ceremonies after the Taliban arrived.” The Taliban tried to control it, he explained, but “it was so common in Kandahar, they were able to embrace it.”

Apparently, traditions of homoerotic behavior have come down from ancient times in Afghanistan. These customs carry on to this day, according to Mohammed, at rural weddings where dancer-boys entertain male crowds, wearing anklets that make music as they move. people

Sometimes, he explained, they “dress him like a woman.” Many of the boys are available for sex.“It has two parts––the dancing part and the sexual part,” Mohammed said. “The sexual part, no one will confess.”These relationships seem to be widely known, even acknowledged implicitly, but they are far less often discussed openly and they are illegal.“

The sexual part, it’s a problem,” Mohammed said. “The man and the boy can go to jail.” I wanted to go to Kandahar because its homosexual reputation seemed most pronounced, and Mohammed’s stories about the city involved relationships between grown men, rather than a man with a youth, as seemed more common elsewhere. Kandahar’s reputation for homosexuality also came up in discussions with some young men I photographed in Kabul’s Babur Gardens pool.

The comfort Afghan men have with their bodies surprised me. Some willingly posed semi-nude in front of a foreigner’s camera. The fall of the Taliban appears to have unleashed a cult of working out. Some of these men proudly asked me to photograph them at their pools, saunas, and gyms. Several of the gyms sported pictures of Arnold Schwarzenegger, still more famous there for his muscles than his politics. At the pool, when I questioned the swimmers through my translator about the Taliban’s notions about body image, several made a joke of the question, claiming that the old regime was made up of gay men––Kandahar “playboys” as they called them––who loved to see naked men.Yet, even as Afghan men joked about the Taliban being gay, they did not seem terribly put off by the subject of homosexuality.

In front of a mosque, I came across a group of construction workers on break, one in traditional clothing, which made for an ideal picture. His friends joined in as I photographed and one very handsome worker essentially took over the shoot. In any Western country, he’d have been a model. Perhaps 20 men in all gathered and quickly realized I was gay, based on my interest in the handsomest man. It proved to be no problem at all; some of the older men pushed us together, asking, “You like homosex?” They were so open, I was the one who was shocked. As I spoke to Mohammed about my hopes to visit Kandahar, he warned me that a foreigner faced the risk of assault for prying into local life there. people

Add to that the choice between the $900 cost of the 30-minute flight from Kabul––more than my freelance budget allowed––or a bus ride along a road where workers were killed just before my visit, and I reluctantly decided to forgo the trip.

My most interesting peek into gay life happened much the way that it would in the West. On the street, a handsome young man held my stare, throwing glances back as he passed. He was a 21-year-old English teacher who I will call Munir, to protect his privacy. Half an hour flew by as we conversed, with men in uniform and women in burqas parading by. Munir wore a neat, though dusty black suit.

In spite of its post-war ruin, Kabul is a cosmopolitan city and Munir tried hard to maintain decorum, even a sense of style. Sex had really not been on my mind when I embarked for Afghanistan, but I was attracted to Munir. His response to my interest struck me as very sophisticated. “I knew what you wanted when you told me I was attractive. I am from Kabul, I know these things,” he said, before adding that at 35 I was too old for him, Afghanistan being a society where few men live through their 40s. He suggested that I meet his 26-year-old friend, who I’ll call Syed, who already had a 35-year-old boyfriend.“This is Kabul,” Munir said in an urbane manner. “Anything can be arranged.”

I returned to my hotel, the Mustafa, full of journalists and odd characters, to prepare for a visit to Munir’s home. The owner Wais, an Afghan American from New Jersey now back in his homeland, knew I was investigating Kabul’s gay side, but I was not out to his staff. I told them simply that I was doing interviews. Abadullah, the protective assistant manager, always insisted on knowing my whereabouts and expressed fears I would run across Al-Qaeda insurgents. When it was time for me to head to Munir’s, Abadullah told me my trip was not a good idea, but then gave instructions to a cabdriver. Abdullah’s warnings rang louder in my head the further the driver went.

Munir said he was only five minutes from my hotel, but the ride seemed to last forever. We were slipping from the Kabul I recognized into places where electricity no longer worked. The crowded streets of Kabul gave way to suburbia, then patches of nothing interspersed with little low-rise communities. I called Munir on my rented mobile, but he sounded drunk, and I could hear people laughing in the background. He’d invited friends to meet me, which made me wary. When we arrived, Munir was on the street with a few friends, including Syed, who was bearded and traditionally clothed. Munir led us up the street to what he called his “special room for men.”

peopleA red light shone from the house’s second floor window. Had I happened on a gay brothel? There were eight men, most in their 20s and 30s, sprawled on cushions. Self consciously, I sat under a large window. Through a wall, I could hear women in the house, but I never saw them. I felt on display with so many men around me. Soon, more entered. If I were here to meet Syed, who were they?

The conversation was stilted, and perhaps they needed to be put at ease as much as I did. Munir at times translated as I asked about life under the Taliban. This broke the tension, and several men brought out photo albums.The men who had gathered together were a masculine bunch. Munir’s brother, who I’ll call Abdul, was a military martial arts teacher, Syed an auto mechanic, and several were bodybuilders. Virtually all of them had fought against the Taliban.

They proudly showed me photos from the army, including one showing Abdul parachuting out of a helicopter. Each man waited expectantly as they showed me pictures, searching intensely for my reaction. It was as if each wanted to prove his bravery, and with each photo, I felt as if I were being wooed. Courage against the Taliban seemed to be their erotic calling card.

They were also clearly interested in talking about sex. One young man asked about English slang words, and offered the tip that the Afghan word “milk” also means masturbation. He then talked about prostitutes, mentioning a Chinese restaurant that fronts for a brothel, clueing me in to the open secret that Kabul is rampant with prostitution, tailored to the needs of foreign workers. This man was 20, married with children.

genericI asked him how in a traditionally Islamic country he knew such things. He responded by challenging me to tell him about my wife or girlfriend. Finally, the young man said, “When we meet a man who does not have a wife, and does not have a girlfriend, we call him a sissy. What is another word for that in English?” One of the men, I’ll call Ali, a brutally handsome man with wildly wavy hair, then put his arm around me and nudged closer. He played with the muscles on my arms, comparing them to his own, his other hand rubbing his crotch.That was when the 20-year-old man simply blurted out, “Munir said you like to do homosexual things.” I refused to answer.

I felt vulnerable, even if the mood was jovial. I asked once again how they could be open about such things in Afghanistan when it seemed so conservative, at least to outsiders. One young man chimed in, “Not under the Taliban, but Afghanistan is a democracy now, we can talk about anything we want.” I couldn’t figure out where all this talking was leading, and worried that maybe my curiosity, a travel writer’s virtue, had finally gotten the best of me. We danced around topics until I understood that nobody meant me any harm.

Several men insisted I sleep there, Munir’s brother being the most persistent, letting me know how happy he would be if I lay beside him. “If you stay here, you are sure to have a ball,” he said. Still, I decided I should go. Munir and Abdul drove me back into town.

As we proceeded through the darkness, Abdul said his brother was an Al-Qaeda member. Afghans commonly say this as a joke, but alone with the two men, I worried until central Kabul came into view. Two days later, confident that my doubts during my first visit were merely the jitters, I returned to Munir’s house to a smaller gathering––just him, his brother Abdul, Ali, Syed, and a fifth man.

The men had planned a massage party, with Ali and Abdul vying for me. Munir continually dared me to kiss his brother, but each time Abdul pulled away at the last minute, laughing. To make me look Afghan, they put a wrap on my head and we all danced. They wanted us to dance with their guns, but in spite of what interesting photos that would have produced, I declined.The neighborhood was full of parties that day, so we wandered music-filled streets, and I was welcomed by several families they introduced me to.

genericAs the night progressed, I was comfortable enough to stay over, and Ali and I slept in each other’s arms, after caressing each other for hours. I don’t think I’ll forget those nights in Munir’s house, but it provided I think only a hint at what homosocial and homosexual behavior means in Afghanistan. Afghan men have lived through hardship, killed for their country to free it from the Taliban, and treat guns like fashion accessories, but strict Islamic rule means they’ve probably never seen a woman naked.

Homosexual behavior might simply be a replacement for physical intimacy they can not get otherwise in their lives––a workaround. Still, I seemed to have encountered a society that accepts affection between men as a wonderful thing. I am eager for my return to the country, and my chance to experience Kandahar too. I can only wonder for now what I’ll find.


There are no Homosexuals in Iran . Mehmoud Ahmadenijad

I found this very good article here.The author has reviewed the book on history of homosexuality in Iran by the famous Iranian academic Janet Afray , who is a Professor of History and Women Studies at Purdue University and also is the president of International Society of Iranian Scholars.  The book is called “Sexual Politics in Modern Iran”, the deals with the constructions of gender and sexuality over a wider historical period. Her extensive reading of the ancient texts have demonstrated the rather “normal” nature of homosexual relationships in Pre-modern Iran.  She demonstrates that the violent homophobia in Iran is the result of  Western modern influence. I differ with the assertion on Marxist oriented “homophobia” . The fact of the matter is that with The Glorious Russian Revolution of 1917 homosexuality became de-criminalized in one of the first acts by the revolutionary government. The claim of  “well documented condemnation of homosexuality by Marx” unfortunately is not very sound one. Passages from Engels have frequently been quoted by the anti-communists to spread of “myth homophobia inherent in communism”. These passages are usually taken out of context and looked outside the “scientific base” of that time to condemn Engels. The Homosexual Liberation Movement always had a strong Marxist element. The Marxist social democratic parties of Germany and Europe were the first to show sensitivity to homosexual cause and the later Gay Liberation Movement always had a strong Marxist element. The Stalinist regime reversed a lot of  Leninist reforms especially those regarding sexual freedoms and women rights and restored the “family”. These crimes should not be attributed to Marx and the Marxists. Anyway the article is very good and i hope you like it

Shaheryar Ali

IRAN’S HIDDEN HOMOSEXUAL HISTORY

Doug Ireland

When Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made his infamous claim at a September 2007 Columbia University appearance that “”In Iran, we don’t have homosexuals like in your country,” the world laughed at the absurdity of this pretense.

Now, a forthcoming book by a leading Iranian scholar in exile, which details both the long history of homosexuality in that nation and the origins of the campaign to erase its traces, not only provides a superlative reply to Ahmadinejad, but demonstrates forcefully that political homophobia was a Western import to a culture in which same-sex relations were widely tolerated and frequently celebrated for well over a thousand years.

“Sexual Politics in Modern Iran,” to be published at the end of next month by Cambridge University Press, is a stunningly researched history and analysis of the evolution of gender and sexuality that will provide a transcendent tool both to the vibrant Iranian women’s movement today fighting the repression of the ayatollahs and to Iranian same-sexers hoping for liberation from a theocracy that condemns them to torture and death.

Its author, Janet Afary, president of the International Society of Iranian Scholars, is a professor of history and women’s studies at Purdue University who has already published several authoritative works on Iranian sexual politics, notably the revealing and award-winning “Foucault and the Iranian Revolution: Gender and the Seductions of Islam” (2005), in which she already demonstrated a remarkable sympathy for gay and lesbian people.

In her new book, Afary’s extensive section on pre-modern Iran, documented by a close reading of ancient texts, portrays the dominant form of same-sex relations as a highly-codified “status-defined homosexuality,” in which an older man – presumably the active partner in sex – acquired a younger partner, or amrad.

Shah Abbas and Wine Boy. Louvre

Shah Abbas and Wine Boy. Louvre

Afary demonstrates how, in this period, “male homoerotic relations in Iran were bound by rules of courtship such as the bestowal of presents, the teaching of literary texts, bodybuilding and military training, mentorship, and the development of social contacts that would help the junior partner’s career. Sometimes men exchanged vows, known as brotherhood sigehs [a form of contractual temporary marriage, lasting from a few hours to 99 years, common among heterosexuals] with homosocial or homosexual overtones.

“These relationships were not only about sex, but also about cultivating affection between the partners, placing certain responsibilities on the man with regard to the future of the boy. Sisterhood sigehs involving lesbian practices were also common in Iran. A long courtship was important in these relations. The couple traded gifts, traveled together to shrines, and occasionally spent the night together. Sigeh sisters might exchange vows on the last few days of the year, a time when the world ‘turned upside down,’ and women were granted certain powers over men.”

Examples of the codes governing same-sex relations were to be found in the “Mirror for Princes genre of literature (andarz nameh) [which] refers to both homosexual and heterosexual relations. Often written by fathers for sons, or viziers for sultans, these books contained separate chapter headings on the treatment of male companions and of wives.”

One such was the Qabus Nameh (1082-1083), in which a father advises a son: “As between women and youths, do not confine your inclinations to either sex; thus you may find enjoyment from both kinds without either of the two becoming inimical to you… During the summer let your desires incline toward youths, and during the winter towards women.”

Afary dissects how “classical Persian literature (twelfth to fifteenth centuries)…overflowed with same-sex themes (such as passionate homoerotic allusions, symbolism, and even explicit references to beautiful young boys.)” This was true not only of the Sufi masters of this classical period but of “the poems of the great twentieth-century poet Iraj Mirza (1874-1926)… Classical poets also celebrated homosexual relationships between kings and their pages.”

Afary also writes that “homosexuality and homoerotic expressions were embraced in numerous other public spaces beyond the royal court, from monasteries and seminaries to taverns, military camps, gymnasiums, bathhouses, and coffeehouses… Until the mid-seventeenth century, male houses of prostitution (amrad khaneh) were recognized, tax-paying establishments.”

While Afary explores the important role of class in same-sex relations, she also illuminates how “Persian Sufi poetry, which is consciously erotic as well as mystical, also celebrated courtship rituals between [men] of more or less equal status… The bond between lover and beloved was… based on a form of chivalry (javan mardi). Love led one to higher ethical ideals, but love also constituted a contract, wherein the lover and the beloved had specific obligations and responsibilities to one another, and the love that bound them both… Sufi men were encouraged to use homoerotic relations as a pathway to spiritual love.”

Unmistakably lesbian sigeh courtship rituals, which continued from the classical period into the twentieth century, were also codified: “Tradition dictated that one [woman] who sought another as ‘sister’ approached a love broker to negotiate the matter. The broker took a tray of sweets to the prospective beloved. In the middle of the tray was a carefully placed dildo or doll made of wax or leather. If the beloved agreed to the proposal, she threw a sequined white scarf (akin to a wedding veil) over the tray… If she was not interested, she threw a black scarf on the tray before sending it back.”

As late as the last half of the 19th century and the early years of the 20th, “Iranian society remained accepting of many male and female homoerotic practices… Consensual and semi-open pederastic relations between adult men and amrads were common within various sectors of society.” What Afary terms a “romantic bisexuality” born in the classical period remained prevalent at court and among elite men and women, and “a form of serial love (‘eshq-e mosalsal) was commonly practiced [in which] their love could shift back and forth from girl to boy and back to girl.”

In the court of Naser al-Din Shah, who ruled Persia from 1848 to 1896, keeping boy concubines was still an acceptable practice, and the shah himself (in addition to his wives and harem) had a young male lover, Malijak, whom he “loved more than anyone else.” In his memoirs, Malijak recalled proudly, “the king’s love for me reached the point where it is impossible for me to write about it… [He] held me in his arms and kissed me as if he were kissing one of his great beloveds.”

In a lengthy section of her book entitled “Toward a Westernized Modernity,” Afary demonstrates how the trend toward modernization which emerged during the Constitutional Revolution of 1906 and which gave the Persian monarchy its first parliament was heavily influenced by concepts harvested from the West.

One of her most stunning revelations is how an Azeri-language newspaper edited and published in the Russian Caucuses, Molla Nasreddin (or MN, which appeared from 1906 to 1931) influenced this Iranian Revolution with a “significant new discourse on gender and sexuality,” sharing Marx’s well-documented contempt for homosexuals. With an editorial board that embraced Russian social democratic concepts, including women’s rights, MN was also “the first paper in the Shi’i Muslim world to endorse normative heterosexuality,” echoing Marx’s well-documented contempt for homosexuality. Afary writes that “this illustrated satirical paper, which circulated among Iranian intellectuals and ordinary people alike, was enormously popular in the region because of its graphic cartoons.”

MN conflated homosexuality and pedophilia, and attacked clerical teachers and leaders for “molesting young boys,” played upon feelings of “contempt” for passive homosexuals, suggested that elite men who kept amrad concubines “had a vested interested in maintaining the (male) homosocial public spaces where semi-covert pederasty was tolerated,” and “mocked the rites of exchanging brotherhood vows before a mollah and compared it to a wedding ceremony.” It was in this way that a discourse of political homophobia developed in Europe, which insisted that only heterosexuality could be the norm, was introduced into Iran.

MN‘s attacks on homosexuality “would shape Iranian debates on sexuality for the next century,” and it “became a model for several Iranian newspapers of the era,” which echoed its attacks on the conservative clergy and leadership for homosexual practices. In the years that followed, “Iranian revolutionaries commonly berated major political figures for their sexual transgressions,” and “revolutionary leaflets accused adult men of having homosexual sex with other adult men, ‘of thirty-year-olds propositioning fifty-year-olds and twenty-year-olds propositioning forty-year-olds, right in front of the Shah.’ Some leaflets repeated the old allegation that major political figures had been amrads in their youth.”

Subsequently, “leading constitutionalists enthusiastically joined the campaign against homosexuality,” writes Afary, noting that “the influential journal Kaveh (1916-1921), published in exile in Berlin and edited by the famous constitutionalist Hasan Taqizadeh, had led the movement of opinion against homosexuality… Their notion of modernization now included the normalization of heterosexual eros and the abandonment of all homosexual practices and even inclinations.”

When Reza Kahn overthrew the monarchy’s Qajar dynasty and made himself shah in 1925, he ushered in a new wave of reforms and modernization that included attempts to outlaw homosexuality entirely and a ferocious – ultimately successful – assault on classical Persian poetry. Iraj Mirza, previously known for his homoerotic poems, “joined other leading political figures of this period in encouraging compulsory heterosexuality.” These politicians and intellectuals insisted that “true patriotism required switching one’s sexual orientation from boys to women… Other intellectuals and educators pressed for the elimination of poems with homosexual themes from school textbooks.”

Leading this crusade was a famous historian and prolific journalist, Ahmad Kasravi, “who helped shape many cultural and educational policies during the 1930s and 1940s.” Kasravi founded a nationalist movement, Pak Dini (Purity of Religion), which developed a broad following. An admirer of MN, Kasravi preached that “homosexuality was a measure of cultural backwardness,” that Sufi poets of homoeroticism led “parasitic” lives, and that their queer poetry “was dangerous and had

Youth and Suitors

Youth and Suitors

to be eliminated.”

Kasravi’s Pak Dini movement “went so far as to institute a festival of book burning, held on winter solstice. Books deemed harmful and amoral were thrown into a bonfire in an event that seemed to echo the Nazi and Soviet-style notions of eliminating ‘degenerate’ art.” Eventually, Prime Minister Mahmoud Jam, who held office from 1935 to 1939, acceded to Kasravi’s demand that homoerotic poems be banned entirely from daily newspapers.

Kasravi “based his opposition to the homoeroticism of classical poetry on several assumptions. He expected the young generation to study Western sciences in order to rebuild the nation, and he regarded Sufi poetry as a dangerous diversion. As preposterous as it might sound, Kasravi also argued that the revival of Persian poetry was a grand conspiracy concocted by British and German Orientalists to divert the nation’s youth from the revolutionary legacy of the Constitutional Revolution and to encourage… immoral pursuits.”

Afary adds sorrowfully that “most supporters of women’s rights sympathized with Kasravi’s project because he encouraged the cultivation of monogamous, heterosexual love in marriage… In this period, neither Kasravi nor feminists distinguished between rape or molestation of boys and consensual same-sex relations between adults.”

The expansion of radio, television, and print media in the 1940s – including a widely read daily, Parcham, published from 1941 by Kasravi’s Pak Dini movement – resulted in a nationwide discussion about the evils of pederasty and, ultimately, in significant official censorship of literature. References to same-sex love and the love of boys were eliminated in textbooks and even in new editions of classical poetry. “Classical poems were now illustrated by miniature paintings celebrating heterosexual, rather than homosexual, love and students were led to believe that the love object was always a woman, even when the text directly contradicted that assumption,” Arafy writes.

In the context of a triumphant censorship that erased from the popular collective memory the enormous literary and cultural heritage of what Afary terms “the ethics of male love” in the classical Persian period, it is hardly surprising as Afary earlier noted in “Foucault and the Iranian Revolution” that the virulence of the current Iranian regime’s anti-homosexual repression stems in part from the role homosexuality played in the 1979 revolution that brought the Ayatollah Khomeini and his followers to power.

In that earlier work, she and her co-author, Kevin B. Anderson, wrote: “There is… a long tradition in nationalist movements of consolidating power through narratives that affirm patriarchy and compulsory heterosexuality, attributing sexual abnormality and immorality to a corrupt ruling elite that is about to be overthrown and/or is complicit with foreign imperialism. Not all the accusations leveled against the [the deposed shah of Iran, and his] Pahlevi family and their wealthy supporters stemmed from political and economic grievances. A significant portion of the public anger was aimed at their ‘immoral’ lifestyle. There were rumors that a gay lifestyle was rampant at the court. The shah’s prime minister, Amir Abbas Hoveyda, was said to have been a homosexual. The satirical press routinely lampooned him for his meticulous attire, the purple orchid in his lapel, and his supposed marriage of convenience. The shah himself was rumored to be bisexual. There were reports that a close male friend of the shah from Switzerland, a man who knew him from their student days in that country, routinely visited him.

“But the greatest public outrage was aimed at two young, elite men with ties to the court who held a mock wedding ceremony. Especially to the highly religious, this was public confirmation that the Pahlevi house was corrupted with the worst kinds of sexual transgressions, that the shah was no longer master of his own house. These rumors contributed to public anger, to a sense of shame and outrage, and ultimately were used by the Islamists in their calls for a revolution.”

Soon after coming to power in 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini established the death penalty for homosexuality.

In “Sexual Politics in Modern Iran,” Afary sums up the situation for homosexuals under the Ahmadinejad regime in this way: “While the shari’a [Islamic law] requires either the actual confession of the accused or four witnesses who observed them in flagrante delicto, today’s authorities look only for medical evidence of penetration in homosexual relationships. Upon finding such evidence, they pronounce the death sentence. Because execution of men on charges of homosexuality has prompted international outrage, the state has tended to compound these charges with others, such as rape and pedophilia. Continual use of these tactics has undermined the status of Iran’s gay community and attenuated public sympathy for them. Meanwhile, many Iranians believe that pedophilia is rampant in the religious cities of Qum and Mashad, including in the seminaries, where temporary marriage and prostitution are also pervasive practices.” (Full disclosure: in her section on gays in today’s Iran, Afary cites my reporting several times and thanks me in the book’s acknowledgements for sharing materials and insights with her.)

In this necessarily truncated summary of some of Afary’s most significant and nuanced findings and revelations with respect to homosexuality, it is impossible to do justice to the full sweep and scope of “Sexual Politics in Iran,” the larger part of which is devoted to the role of Iranian women, and to their struggles for freedom which began in the 19th century. But as Afary herself writes, “[F]or a very long time even talking about the pervasive homoeroticism of the region’s premodern culture had been labeled ‘Orientalism’… [but] increasingly I found that one could not simply talk about gender and women’s rights, particularly rights within marriage, without addressing the subject of same-sex relations.”

This she has done with uncommon sensitivity, intellectual rigor, engagement, subtlety, and skill.

And for that, both Iranian lesbians and gays and feminists in that nation owe Afary an enormous debt of gratitude, as do all of us concerned with sexual liberation for everyone worldwide

When Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad made his infamous claim at a September 2007 Columbia University appearance that “”In Iran, we don’t have homosexuals like in your country,” the world laughed at the absurdity of this pretense.

Now, a forthcoming book by a leading Iranian scholar in exile, which details both the long history of homosexuality in that nation and the origins of the campaign to erase its traces, not only provides a superlative reply to Ahmadinejad, but demonstrates forcefully that political homophobia was a Western import to a culture in which same-sex relations were widely tolerated and frequently celebrated for well over a thousand years.

“Sexual Politics in Modern Iran,” to be published at the end of next month by Cambridge University Press, is a stunningly researched history and analysis of the evolution of gender and sexuality that will provide a transcendent tool both to the vibrant Iranian women’s movement today fighting the repression of the ayatollahs and to Iranian same-sexers hoping for liberation from a theocracy that condemns them to torture and death.

Its author, Janet Afary, president of the International Society of Iranian Scholars, is a professor of history and women’s studies at Purdue University who has already published several authoritative works on Iranian sexual politics, notably the revealing and award-winning “Foucault and the Iranian Revolution: Gender and the Seductions of Islam” (2005), in which she already demonstrated a remarkable sympathy for gay and lesbian people.

In her new book, Afary’s extensive section on pre-modern Iran, documented by a close reading of ancient texts, portrays the dominant form of same-sex relations as a highly-codified “status-defined homosexuality,” in which an older man – presumably the active partner in sex – acquired a younger partner, or amrad.

Afary demonstrates how, in this period, “male homoerotic relations in Iran were bound by rules of courtship such as the bestowal of presents, the teaching of literary texts, bodybuilding and military training, mentorship, and the development of social contacts that would help the junior partner’s career. Sometimes men exchanged vows, known as brotherhood sigehs [a form of contractual temporary marriage, lasting from a few hours to 99 years, common among heterosexuals] with homosocial or homosexual overtones.

“These relationships were not only about sex, but also about cultivating affection between the partners, placing certain responsibilities on the man with regard to the future of the boy. Sisterhood sigehs involving lesbian practices were also common in Iran. A long courtship was important in these relations. The couple traded gifts, traveled together to shrines, and occasionally spent the night together. Sigeh sisters might exchange vows on the last few days of the year, a time when the world ‘turned upside down,’ and women were granted certain powers over men.”

Examples of the codes governing same-sex relations were to be found in the “Mirror for Princes genre of literature (andarz nameh) [which] refers to both homosexual and heterosexual relations. Often written by fathers for sons, or viziers for sultans, these books contained separate chapter headings on the treatment of male companions and of wives.”

One such was the Qabus Nameh (1082-1083), in which a father advises a son: “As between women and youths, do not confine your inclinations to either sex; thus you may find enjoyment from both kinds without either of the two becoming inimical to you… During the summer let your desires incline toward youths, and during the winter towards women.”

Afary dissects how “classical Persian literature (twelfth to fifteenth centuries)…overflowed with same-sex themes (such as passionate homoerotic allusions, symbolism, and even explicit references to beautiful young boys.)” This was true not only of the Sufi masters of this classical period but of “the poems of the great twentieth-century poet Iraj Mirza (1874-1926)… Classical poets also celebrated homosexual relationships between kings and their pages.”

Afary also writes that “homosexuality and homoerotic expressions were embraced in numerous other public spaces beyond the royal court, from monasteries and seminaries to taverns, military camps, gymnasiums, bathhouses, and coffeehouses… Until the mid-seventeenth century, male houses of prostitution (amrad khaneh) were recognized, tax-paying establishments.”

While Afary explores the important role of class in same-sex relations, she also illuminates how “Persian Sufi poetry, which is consciously erotic as well as mystical, also celebrated courtship rituals between [men] of more or less equal status… The bond between lover and beloved was… based on a form of chivalry (javan mardi). Love led one to higher ethical ideals, but love also constituted a contract, wherein the lover and the beloved had specific obligations and responsibilities to one another, and the love that bound them both… Sufi men were encouraged to use homoerotic relations as a pathway to spiritual love.”

Unmistakably lesbian sigeh courtship rituals, which continued from the classical period into the twentieth century, were also codified: “Tradition dictated that one [woman] who sought another as ‘sister’ approached a love broker to negotiate the matter. The broker took a tray of sweets to the prospective beloved. In the middle of the tray was a carefully placed dildo or doll made of wax or leather. If the beloved agreed to the proposal, she threw a sequined white scarf (akin to a wedding veil) over the tray… If she was not interested, she threw a black scarf on the tray before sending it back.”

As late as the last half of the 19th century and the early years of the 20th, “Iranian society remained accepting of many male and female homoerotic practices… Consensual and semi-open pederastic relations between adult men and amrads were common within various sectors of society.” What Afary terms a “romantic bisexuality” born in the classical period remained prevalent at court and among elite men and women, and “a form of serial love (‘eshq-e mosalsal) was commonly practiced [in which] their love could shift back and forth from girl to boy and back to girl.”

In the court of Naser al-Din Shah, who ruled Persia from 1848 to 1896, keeping boy concubines was still an acceptable practice, and the shah himself (in addition to his wives and harem) had a young male lover, Malijak, whom he “loved more than anyone else.” In his memoirs, Malijak recalled proudly, “the king’s love for me reached the point where it is impossible for me to write about it… [He] held me in his arms and kissed me as if he were kissing one of his great beloveds.”

In a lengthy section of her book entitled “Toward a Westernized Modernity,” Afary demonstrates how the trend toward modernization which emerged during the Constitutional Revolution of 1906 and which gave the Persian monarchy its first parliament was heavily influenced by concepts harvested from the West.

One of her most stunning revelations is how an Azeri-language newspaper edited and published in the Russian Caucuses, Molla Nasreddin (or MN, which appeared from 1906 to 1931) influenced this Iranian Revolution with a “significant new discourse on gender and sexuality,” sharing Marx’s well-documented contempt for homosexuals. With an editorial board that embraced Russian social democratic concepts, including women’s rights, MN was also “the first paper in the Shi’i Muslim world to endorse normative heterosexuality,” echoing Marx’s well-documented contempt for homosexuality. Afary writes that “this illustrated satirical paper, which circulated among Iranian intellectuals and ordinary people alike, was enormously popular in the region because of its graphic cartoons.”

MN conflated homosexuality and pedophilia, and attacked clerical teachers and leaders for “molesting young boys,” played upon feelings of “contempt” for passive homosexuals, suggested that elite men who kept amrad concubines “had a vested interested in maintaining the (male) homosocial public spaces where semi-covert pederasty was tolerated,” and “mocked the rites of exchanging brotherhood vows before a mollah and compared it to a wedding ceremony.” It was in this way that a discourse of political homophobia developed in Europe, which insisted that only heterosexuality could be the norm, was introduced into Iran.

MN‘s attacks on homosexuality “would shape Iranian debates on sexuality for the next century,” and it “became a model for several Iranian newspapers of the era,” which echoed its attacks on the conservative clergy and leadership for homosexual practices. In the years that followed, “Iranian revolutionaries commonly berated major political figures for their sexual transgressions,” and “revolutionary leaflets accused adult men of having homosexual sex with other adult men, ‘of thirty-year-olds propositioning fifty-year-olds and twenty-year-olds propositioning forty-year-olds, right in front of the Shah.’ Some leaflets repeated the old allegation that major political figures had been amrads in their youth.”

Subsequently, “leading constitutionalists enthusiastically joined the campaign against homosexuality,” writes Afary, noting that “the influential journal Kaveh (1916-1921), published in exile in Berlin and edited by the famous constitutionalist Hasan Taqizadeh, had led the movement of opinion against homosexuality… Their notion of modernization now included the normalization of heterosexual eros and the abandonment of all homosexual practices and even inclinations.”

When Reza Kahn overthrew the monarchy’s Qajar dynasty and made himself shah in 1925, he ushered in a new wave of reforms and modernization that included attempts to outlaw homosexuality entirely and a ferocious – ultimately successful – assault on classical Persian poetry. Iraj Mirza, previously known for his homoerotic poems, “joined other leading political figures of this period in encouraging compulsory heterosexuality.” These politicians and intellectuals insisted that “true patriotism required switching one’s sexual orientation from boys to women… Other intellectuals and educators pressed for the elimination of poems with homosexual themes from school textbooks.”

Leading this crusade was a famous historian and prolific journalist, Ahmad Kasravi, “who helped shape many cultural and educational policies during the 1930s and 1940s.” Kasravi founded a nationalist movement, Pak Dini (Purity of Religion), which developed a broad following. An admirer of MN, Kasravi preached that “homosexuality was a measure of cultural backwardness,” that Sufi poets of homoeroticism led “parasitic” lives, and that their queer poetry “was dangerous and had to be eliminated.”

Kasravi’s Pak Dini movement “went so far as to institute a festival of book burning, held on winter solstice. Books deemed harmful and amoral were thrown into a bonfire in an event that seemed to echo the Nazi and Soviet-style notions of eliminating ‘degenerate’ art.” Eventually, Prime Minister Mahmoud Jam, who held office from 1935 to 1939, acceded to Kasravi’s demand that homoerotic poems be banned entirely from daily newspapers.

Kasravi “based his opposition to the homoeroticism of classical poetry on several assumptions. He expected the young generation to study Western sciences in order to rebuild the nation, and he regarded Sufi poetry as a dangerous diversion. As preposterous as it might sound, Kasravi also argued that the revival of Persian poetry was a grand conspiracy concocted by British and German Orientalists to divert the nation’s youth from the revolutionary legacy of the Constitutional Revolution and to encourage… immoral pursuits.”

Afary adds sorrowfully that “most supporters of women’s rights sympathized with Kasravi’s project because he encouraged the cultivation of monogamous, heterosexual love in marriage… In this period, neither Kasravi nor feminists distinguished between rape or molestation of boys and consensual same-sex relations between adults.”

The expansion of radio, television, and print media in the 1940s – including a widely read daily, Parcham, published from 1941 by Kasravi’s Pak Dini movement – resulted in a nationwide discussion about the evils of pederasty and, ultimately, in significant official censorship of literature. References to same-sex love and the love of boys were eliminated in textbooks and even in new editions of classical poetry. “Classical poems were now illustrated by miniature paintings celebrating heterosexual, rather than homosexual, love and students were led to believe that the love object was always a woman, even when the text directly contradicted that assumption,” Arafy writes.

In the context of a triumphant censorship that erased from the popular collective memory the enormous literary and cultural heritage of what Afary terms “the ethics of male love” in the classical Persian period, it is hardly surprising as Afary earlier noted in “Foucault and the Iranian Revolution” that the virulence of the current Iranian regime’s anti-homosexual repression stems in part from the role homosexuality played in the 1979 revolution that brought the Ayatollah Khomeini and his followers to power.

In that earlier work, she and her co-author, Kevin B. Anderson, wrote: “There is… a long tradition in nationalist movements of consolidating power through narratives that affirm patriarchy and compulsory heterosexuality, attributing sexual abnormality and immorality to a corrupt ruling elite that is about to be overthrown and/or is complicit with foreign imperialism. Not all the accusations leveled against the [the deposed shah of Iran, and his] Pahlevi family and their wealthy supporters stemmed from political and economic grievances. A significant portion of the public anger was aimed at their ‘immoral’ lifestyle. There were rumors that a gay lifestyle was rampant at the court. The shah’s prime minister, Amir Abbas Hoveyda, was said to have been a homosexual. The satirical press routinely lampooned him for his meticulous attire, the purple orchid in his lapel, and his supposed marriage of convenience. The shah himself was rumored to be bisexual. There were reports that a close male friend of the shah from Switzerland, a man who knew him from their student days in that country, routinely visited him.

“But the greatest public outrage was aimed at two young, elite men with ties to the court who held a mock wedding ceremony. Especially to the highly religious, this was public confirmation that the Pahlevi house was corrupted with the worst kinds of sexual transgressions, that the shah was no longer master of his own house. These rumors contributed to public anger, to a sense of shame and outrage, and ultimately were used by the Islamists in their calls for a revolution.”

Soon after coming to power in 1979, Ayatollah Khomeini established the death penalty for homosexuality.

In “Sexual Politics in Modern Iran,” Afary sums up the situation for homosexuals under the Ahmadinejad regime in this way: “While the shari’a [Islamic law] requires either the actual confession of the accused or four witnesses who observed them in flagrante delicto, today’s authorities look only for medical evidence of penetration in homosexual relationships. Upon finding such evidence, they pronounce the death sentence. Because execution of men on charges of homosexuality has prompted international outrage, the state has tended to compound these charges with others, such as rape and pedophilia. Continual use of these tactics has undermined the status of Iran’s gay community and attenuated public sympathy for them. Meanwhile, many Iranians believe that pedophilia is rampant in the religious cities of Qum and Mashad, including in the seminaries, where temporary marriage and prostitution are also pervasive practices.” (Full disclosure: in her section on gays in today’s Iran, Afary cites my reporting several times and thanks me in the book’s acknowledgements for sharing materials and insights with her.)

In this necessarily truncated summary of some of Afary’s most significant and nuanced findings and revelations with respect to homosexuality, it is impossible to do justice to the full sweep and scope of “Sexual Politics in Iran,” the larger part of which is devoted to the role of Iranian women, and to their struggles for freedom which began in the 19th century. But as Afary herself writes, “[F]or a very long time even talking about the pervasive homoeroticism of the region’s premodern culture had been labeled ‘Orientalism’… [but] increasingly I found that one could not simply talk about gender and women’s rights, particularly rights within marriage, without addressing the subject of same-sex relations.”

This she has done with uncommon sensitivity, intellectual rigor, engagement, subtlety, and skill.

And for that, both Iranian lesbians and gays and feminists in that nation owe Afary an enormous debt of gratitude, as do all of us concerned with sexual liberation for everyone worldwide

AAGN001278I recently discovered
a very interesting blog, its called (mass)think!. The blog is a
treasure for those who are concerned with “radical philosophy”. Avant-garde
works regarding Marxism, Post-structuralist theory, radical feminism and Gender
theory are available to read and learn, on the top of it are the Aesthetics and
Arts which illuminate ones being. This story written by Ryan and Aless on
(mass)think! Which can be reached here
is important because it aesthetically deconstructs the romantic discourse of
love in western tradition of metaphysics and aesthetics which pre-conceives
essentialist notion of gender as spirit of love. The relationship between myth and
knowledge and its ramifications on culture manifest through the title “Romio
and Julio”. This in turn establishes a non essentialist, non temporal link between
the pre-modern and the post modern. Those who are interested in contemporary approaches
to textuality and narrativity will find it to be a treat. With Judith Butler’s contribution
into non essentialist understanding of Gender and sexuality as primarily “performative”,
the story is interplay of logic, rhetoric, passions and desire. Enjoy

Shaheryar Ali

Romeo and Julio

Ryan and Aless, (Mass)think!

“Let’s leave. Tonight.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Do you have any idea how
much it kills me whenever you get jealous of me? Talking to a girl, or talking
about them? Don’t you think I see? Don’t you think I saw just now—And that
wasn’t even a friend!”

“You don’t know what you’re
talking about.”

“I can’t have any more of it.
I won’t have any more! I wanna be with you. I wanna try it. So let’s go. Leave.
Just go for it!”

“You have a girlfriend.”

“So? I’ll break up with her.”

“You’re crazy . . .”

“So what? Isn’t that,
according to you, the hallmark of love? Its inexplicability, its irrationality
. . .”

“You’re not even gay.”

“Wasn’t it you who told me
that sexuality is but a performance, that it’s just a convenient, how did you
call it, ‘molar’ way to represent in collectivity the everyday actions we
perform, that in truth we are all polymorphously perverse, capable of anything,
capable of connecting to everything, that over the years we’ve just been
rigidified by social codes that normalize us so we forget our multiple
potentialities and become the boring, monomaniac machines that we are?”

“You
don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“So you’re saying all those
late-night phone calls, all those conversations . . . All those theories were
not meant to convince me? Make me believe?”

“I . . . simply articulated
what I believed . . .”

“Look, I don’t know if I’m
gay—but as you said, it doesn’t matter. I know what I feel for you. I know, at
the end of the night, I wanna call you. I know, at the end of the day, despite
all the other people around me, I wanna come home to you . . . Wasn’t it you
who said that we’re all capable of anything? Everything? Of being both sexes.
Of being all the sexes! It doesn’t matter what we do now, who we sleep with. It
matters who we can do what with. How we feel. My body parts can learn. In fact,
they’re able. They just need to be awakened. And they will. My heart knows . .
.”

“What are you saying?”

“I wanna try it, see if my
parts can resonate with yours. There is no other person that I admire, no other
person that I . . .—I’m not gonna let the way I’ve been sexually trained to
hinder what I feel for you, limit me—most of all, hurt you . . .”

“It’s crazy. I’m leaving
tomorrow. I got a job . . .”

“So? Forget it. F**k it! I’m
leaving my girlfriend.”

“I . . .”

“Leave your commitments.
Let’s just go! Leave. Leave everything behind . . . Isn’t that what people do?
For love . . .”

“No, no . . . I’m not this
disturbed anymore. A year ago, I might have done this—”

. [kiss] . .

“I know what you feel. I felt
what you want. What do you say?”

“Yes, yes . . . Let’s go . .
.”

This letter was written to the editor of PTH and my dear friend Raza Rumi. He was kind enough to publish an edited version of this letter.

The basic aim of this letter was to highlight the fact that intellectual and progressive history shows that Fascist, Far-Right and Conservatives have over time built a highly offensive system of “witch-hunt” against those who have stood up for equality. The stereotype was to brand every one who stood up against the system as “Communist”, “Jew” or “Homosexual”. More often all these were part of a wider “stereotype” which in United States where even Liberals were called “commies”. Hilliary Clinton for examples states in her autobiography how she was slandered as a “commie” in deep south. Pinko is one such derogatory term used by American Right against progressive and civil right activist many of those lost their life and honor during McCarthy era. “Pinko-fag” is a term one often hears in USA while talking to bigots. The point of the letter was should a publication which claims itself to be progressive and secular-humanist and liberal allow language of American Right especially one associated with hate crimes during McCarthy era. Weather we should rise above “Niggers”,”Pinkos””commies” and “fagots” or we should celebrate one of the greatest “witch-hunting” by keep associating with it. Its neither about “communism” nor about “homosexuality” , any one who has read history knows McCarthy and Red Scare targeted people who were not all communists. Arthur Miller is perhaps the only writer who has  truly captured the mania of Red Scare and witch hunt in his remarkable and celebrated classic Play “The Crucible”. Its my failure , my personal failure that i couldn’t convey to my friend that i only didnt wanted to live in a “Salem”

Shaheryar Ali

Dear Raza Rumi,

After reading one of the articles on Pak Tea House I have been forced to write this letter of protest to you. The reasons are my great personal attachment to you and Pak Tea House Blog-zine I have always considered you not only a dear friend but also a mentor and spiritual companion in my quest for truth. The importance Pak Tea House has in my life is clear from this simple fact that I wrote my first ever “public article” for this internet publication. I am neither a professional writer nor I intend to be one I like some other people who can be called “dysfunctional neurotics” or “impractical Romantics” etc write only for one reason to voice our conscientious opinion. We neither claim “neutrality” or “impartiality” nor do we believe in “hegemonizing” the opinion. Our commitment to our values could be judged from the fact that the first target of our criticism is “Self”, in my case you are aware that I have always targeted intellectual expression of the “my self”, my country, my religion, my gender and my sexuality. I have been vocal critic of the things which according to the essentialist point of view are very nature of my being. I have been a vocal critic of Pakistani nationalism, despite the fact that I grew up with green flag on my chest and that I love this soil more than anything else in my life, I was born in a muslim family and have a deep emotional attachment to holy family, sufi mystics and other Islamic traditions but I have also been a passionate supporter of those who want to subject Islam to a libertarian critique. I am classified biologically as a “Male” who have XY genotype, but I reject the essentialist notion of Gender in line of philosophers like Bulleh Shah “Kanjri ban.ne meri izzet na ghati , mein ten ach ke yaar manana” Jacques Derrida , Michel Foucault and Judith Butler. I am a “homosexual” but I reject the modern “Gay” label and associate my self with “Queer Movement”

The reasons for elaborating my intellectual history are to show our firm commitment to “Freedom of Expression” and “Right to Dissent”. Having said that, I come to the issue at hand; Mr Yassir Latif Hamdani’s latest article which has been written in response to a critical piece by “Freethinker” . I was shocked to read it. Now , its not that I have no expectations from Mr Hamdani when it comes to petty offenses, the reasons of my shock and outrage are that such a violently bigoted “hate speech” has been allowed at Pak Tea House. I here want to make one thing perfectly clear that Mr Hamdani’s right to express himself remains inalienable and non negotiable. The debate of “Freedom of expression” and “Hate Speech” is an ongoing debate and this letter is not the proper medium to revise it. Pak Tea House Blog is not a “free-publication”, it exercises an “editorial control” which means that it recognizes “Offence factor” or “The Harm Factor” and regulates speech which it considers either harmful or offensive. When Pak Tea House is exercising editorial control, it becomes a matter of “intellectual freedom”, how that control is being asserted. The generally accepted Progressive/Liberal position is to fight bigotry, racism, sexism, homophobia, and gender discrimination at “social level”, at work place, offices, schools, churches, mosques and publications. The point is raising of consciousness at mass level to bring about “social –change”. The consensus is of protecting the “marginalized” groups, blacks, Jews, gays, transgender, etc for this the progressive establishments adopt “Affirmative actions” and “Pluralistic settings”. The issue of “state regulation” of this offensive speech is controversial amongst Left/Liberal/Civil Rights lobbies and activists. The more advance positions have been to resist any “state control” even if it seems to be protecting “marginalized community”. Because state control has the potential of being abused. This can be elaborated by the position of “American Civil Liberties Union”, which may occasionally plead for a “Neo Nazi” hate mongerer when he has been detained by authority but it will at social level fight hate mongering. It itself will never use its platform to spread hate; will never use offensive bigoted language. Noam Chomsky will sign a petition condemning removal from services of a French Professor who is Holocaust denier but he himself vehemently oppose anti Semitism, holocaust denial and will never use his website or articles to engage in “hate-mongering”. In this way issue of “freedom of expression” and “Hate mongering” are put in perspective. It’s fought at social level, at intellectual level, in streets but state is not allowed to restrict speech.

This principle has been violated at PTH. Mr. Hamdani’s article is titled “Brownies for Pinkos: Freethinking Paki Style”. Being a philosophy student “language” is my obsession and “etymology” my Passion Now this “Pinkos” have a very special significance for us “Commies”, “fags”, “sissies” whose genders is so “indeterminate” that we be addressed as “His/Her”. The term is literally drenched in blood. First appearing in Time Magazine, in 1926. Reference sources will talk bout its contemporary use as a “derogatory term used for those with sympathies with “communism”. A little detail will shed more light: The politics of colour. Those who used and popularized this term are those who saw “communism” in every emancipatory movement. But for “communist” the favored term was “Red”. I will remind you of the Spanish Civil War where General Franco and his “patriotic nationalists” read “Fascists” gave the Slogan “Better Dead than Red”. For them “Red” was every one who was on other side, poets, intellectuals, liberals, Anarchists, Socialists, Trotskyites. And than it all had a complete package “Jews, Fags Commies”. Communism was a “Jewish conspiracy” and their method to destroy a nation was to spread evil, atheism and homosexuality. By making the honour loving brave men of the nation “Homosexuals” the Jews/commies were destroying the nation. You remember Lorca, the Spanish poet, who Neruda laments in his poem on Spain. In Andalusia when he was captured the great patriotic men of Catholic non violent morality tortured him. He was asked to bow and say he was a “communist”. He was shot. Two shots were fired on his butt because he was a “Homosexual sissy” as well.

Now leave these Reds or commies aside, let’s come to Pinkos. Now in United States, those sissies who were not communists because they criticized USSR and totalitarianism but because they use to talk about “Peace”, “non violence”, ”Civil Rights” those long haired, hippies, sociopaths, they had to be commies so they coined the term “Pinkos”. Pink being the lighter shade of “Red” of communism and Pink also the colour of Gay Liberation. Of course who could forget Adolf Hitler the great made us wear “Pink Triangles” before killing us in Gas chambers? Now for American Right the Liberals were all commies and fags. A complete stereotype was created.

The great Time Magazine who coined this term used it in a specific perspective. Joseph J Firebaugh in his “Vocabulary of Time Magazine” says “Term has been used along with “Parlor Pink” for people with Left sympathies with a special implication of “effeteness”.

Now this “effeteness”, the Latin root of this word is “effetus”, fetus, fruitful, “More at Feminine” Impotent, sissy, faggy, Fruit” is yet another term for us “sissy boys” in American High schools.

From Time Magazine we come to Wall Street Journal , they used this term in 1920 , they talked about the “complete package” used the word “Pink” while describing supporter of progressive politician La Follete:

“Visionaries, ne’er do wells, parlor pinks, reds, hyphenates [Americans with divided allegiance], soft handed agriculturalists and working men who have never seen a shovel” so coming to point “Sissy Lefties”

Speaking of bigotry how could we forget another hero of Mr Hamdani , Richard Nixon , who using the same bigoted and sexist line , used this during Senate campaign against Helen Douglas , its one of the most infamous usage of this word “She is Pink right Down to her underwear”. The term was used most frequently during the worse times of United State History known as “The Red Scare” and McCarthy Era” where many Pinkos were tortured, killed, their lives ruined. Ku Klux Klan burned many long haired pinko sissies who stood up for Black Rights

The great Term was also being used In Apartheid South Africa, the ANC after all was “commie” and “Pinko” How many “Pinkos” were murdered and tortured there I leave it to you.

The real assault on the “Pink” happened in Germany with Homosexuals being killed en mass during Holocaust .They were asked to wear “Pink Triangles” to assert their “homosexuality” and “sissy-ness”.

Now let’s come to “Paki”. The great Pakistani “Patriot” Mr Hamdani uses this overtly “Racist” word. “Paki” has been declared by courts in UK to be “racist”. Just 2 days back Prince Harry made a public apology for using this term. Yahoo News says:

LONDON (AFP) – Britain’s Prince Harry apologised Sunday for any offence caused after a self-filmed video was released showing him calling an army colleague a Paki and telling another he looked like a “raghead”. Politicians condemned his remarks and welcomed his apology, but Muslim youth organisation the Ramadan Foundation said the comments were “sickening”. The Ministry of Defence said it would not tolerate “inappropriate behaviour” and Harry’s commanding officer would look into his remarks. Britain’s biggest-selling newspaper said the clips, posted on its website, were made in 2006 when the prince was still an officer cadet. footage begins as Harry is waiting with his platoon in an airport departure lounge for a flight to a training exercise in Cyprus. Touring the room with a video camera as his colleagues snooze, he spots a colleague of South Asian ethnic origin and says: “Anybody else around here?… Ah, our little Paki friend, Ahmed.“”Paki” is a racist term for Pakistanis or other South Asians.

Harry’s office issued an apology, but insisted the prince had used the term without malice. “Prince Harry fully understands how offensive this term can be, and is extremely sorry for any offence his words might cause,” a spokesman said. Cabinet minister John Denham condemned Harry’s language, saying: “People have changed their attitudes, people realise how offensive it is and I think the fact he has apologised so quickly shows that he’s recognised it.” David Cameron, leader of the main opposition Conservatives, said Harry’s comments were “completely unacceptable” and it was “right” he had apologised, but did not call for him to be reprimanded” Sun, 11 Jan, 2009

This is the normal response to “bigotry” which I feel PTH has failed to show. What I want to remind here is all this fuss is created in UK where this remark “Paki” was uttered by Prince Harry for a friend in a situation which could be dismissed as a “joke”. Prince also pretends to call Queen in the video. But all this was not enough to let him off the hook. What is more important is that all this “did not happen because the person who was called “Paki” complained. He never did. He never was offended. This is also not about “discrimination” because the person who was called “Paki” was a cadet at Sandhurst academy, he Mr Ahmad Raza Khan was Prince Harry’s colleague and friend and was one of the best cadets and was presented with “Overseas Sword” by Queen Elizabeth herself in 2006 for being the best cadet. So there was no question of “legal discrimination”, even than British Society forced Prince Harry to apologize publicly. It was all about Language.

I don’t want to go into the academic merits of Mr Hamdani’s article and his Gandhi bashing. What I find ironic is a man who builds this case on the premise that Gandhi was a “sexist”, “Racist” “fascist” and “castist” thus masking his bigotry and communalism in Liberal ethos and impeccable English will use terminology as overtly sexist, racist and homophobic as “Pinkos” and “Paki”?? The most outrageous part is the nauseously sexist assault on “free thinker”, Knowing very well “freethinke’s” views on Gender and sexuality [His blog] and also knowing “free thinker” is a boy , even than he writes “Freethinker wants to prove “himself/herself” a freethinker” This “him/her shit goes on. Now my dear friend he has seen “freethinker’s” blog, he knows where he is hitting. Freethinker , my self and many others consider the essentialist notion of Gender a very oppressive social construct. The modern discipline of Gender theory is based on this concept. The whole discipline is of course of “pinkos”, feminists n faggots. Its no wonder the traditional Vanguard of all reaction in west Pope Benedict had recently condemned the whole academic discipline of Gender theory. It all may sound not very appealing to you but my dear friend people like us who grew up struggling with issues of gender and sexuality, who have been bullied at schools for being “sissy” and “fags” pushed to the point of suicide and nervous break down this is the matter of our life and death our freedom and liberty. What respectability English language grants to bigotry. This “Pinkos” and “Paki” , “Him/Her” is not very different to us than “Hijra”, “khusra” etc. Cant our ideas be vehemently criticized without judging us for who we sleep with, how we talk and walk and do we wear lipstick? I asked Mr Omair Raza to write for PTH, I was under impression that discussions will be on issues and ideas and not on our race, religion, gender and sexuality.

With this sort of bigotry being allowed what happens that we loose our intellectual freedom, let me give you an example. The techniques by which Mr Gandhi becomes “castist”, “sexists”,” fascist” and “racist” , every known man in history could be shown to be. I for example if uses this methodology could write about Voltaire being racist. If Hindu nationalists want to write on PTH about Prophet of Islam, with respect to Islam and Woman emancipation and sexuality, we all know the age of Hazrat Ayesha mentioned in reputed Islamic texts when the marriage was consumed. Jesus can be demonstrated to be a virulent racist and hate mongerer . What moral justification we have to “control” this hate speech and not control one which favors Pakistani muslim stra8 guy’s bigotry against other marginalized groups??

What should I expect after my post on Homosexuality at PTH that a fellow writer writes “Brownies for Commie Fagot”??

There is a responsibility to protect marginalized groups at work place, clubs etc United Nations has recently passed a resolution to end discrimination against Homosexuals and Transgender people. Criticism and racist –sexist slandering are two very different things. I have been taught to stand up to and oppose bigotry and that I will do. I only expected that PTH editorial policy would have followed normal protective mechanisms against racist and sexist offenses. If PTH chooses to keep allowing racist/sexist and derogatory language in general especially to be used by Writers against fellow writers merely for intellectual difference, I will be forced to consider it as “Abuse” and in that case will not be able to keep associating my self with PTH. My mother taught me that one can criticize Malcom X’s violence without calling him “Nigger” and I think our views can be criticized without us being “Pinkos” “Pakis” and “commies”

I am sure you will understand my pain. At the personal level I am feeling very uneasy after writing this knowing that you personally are not for all this, I want to apologize for any pain and letdown my letter may have caused you. But Raza I will be not be a party to Abuse.

I am waiting for your reply and action. I thank you and Pak Tea House for giving me chance to write and for grooming my thought. For that I will always be in debt.

Yours Faithfully

Sherry

[Shaheryar Ali]

Several nations with sizable gay communities have not signed up to a declaration on the universal decriminalisation of homosexuality to be presented at the UN this month.

 

 

The French initiative is backed by all EU nations along with Norway Switzerland, Iceland, Ukraine, Andorra, Liechtenstein, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, Montenegro, Serbia, Ukraine, and the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia.

In the Americas the most notable absence is the United States.

Canada has signed up alongside Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Ecuador, Mexico and Uruguay.

Three African nations – Gabon, Cape Verde and Guinea-Bissau – are committed to the declaration alongside New Zealand, Israel, Armenia and Japan.

Louis Georges Tin, the founder of the Inernational Day Against Homophobia, is behind the universal decriminalisation declaration.

He met with Rama Yade, France’s minister of human rights and foreign affairs, earlier this year.

In September she confirmed that she will appeal at the United Nations for the universal decriminalisation of homosexuality.

Until the end of 2008 France will speak for all EU member states at the UN General Assembly, as they hold the rotating Presidency of the European Union.

The French initiative on decrminalisation will take the form of a solemn declaration from UN states, rather than a vote in the UN on the matter.

France will submit a draft declaration at the UN General Assembly between December 15th and 20th. The British government already advocates universal decriminalisation.

More than 80 countries outlaw same-sex relations in all circumstances.

The maximum punishments range from a few years jail to life imprisonment.

In nine countries, or regions of countries, the mandatory punishment for homosexuality is death by execution.

More than 50 nations have signed up to support the initiative, but the Vatican has attacked it and claims that as many countries have not signed up, it they are in the right.

“It’s not for nothing that fewer than 50 member states of the United Nations have adhered to the proposal in question while more than 150 have not adhered. The Holy See is not alone,” a Vatican spokesman said earlier this week.

The Holy See does not have a vote at the UN, but its observer has tried to claim that “states which do not recognise same-sex unions as ‘matrimony’ will be pilloried and made an object of pressure,” as a result of the declaration.

Mr Tin said:

“If your government has not yet signed the text, and if you think it is relevant to ask them, you could then lobby the Foreign Ministry in your capital.

“It might be also useful to copy any message to your country’s Ambassador at the United Nations.

“You can explain that it is a declaration (it is not compelling), it is only about decriminalising homosexuality (there is no link with marriage) and that more than 50 countries have already signed.

“If your government has already signed the text, you may ask them to contact other close friend states. For instance, Canada and UK might contact other countries of the Commonwealth, Mexico and Spain might contact other countries of Latin America

Source : Pink News

All discourse in Pakistan is a “discourse of exclusion”, where minorities, perverts, insane,women,Dalits and “others” have no voice at all. Amongst them Dalits and Gays are unique because they “dont exist” in public discourse. They have been robbed of their very existence.

No one dares to speak on gender and sexual boundaries erected by Male chauvinism and its product the Islamic Militarism. Pakistani state is obsessed with “machismo”, the military junta that have ruled Pakistan have “virilized” the society as a whole on sharp chauvinistic lines.

The squares and streets have been decorated with the models of Missals , named after macho all male invaders of India like “Ghori”, the phallic obsession continues when colonial militarism transforms into “Islamic militarism”, here we see the “cult of Muhammed bin Qasim”. the 17 years old 1st  moslem invader of India. The whole story of his invasion has strong gender implication. He is shown to invade India to “save the honour” of a “woman”. He is a young macho male with lot of wives, through Qasim a “stereotype” of “Mujahid” is constructed, Male, Virile, ruthless , straight and polygamous.

Jamat e Islami , the prime fascist party of Pakistan has been on forefront of building “the cult of Muhammed bin Qasim”, its head quarter is named “Mansoora” after the first city built by Qasim and Sindh is referred to as “Dar us salam” the “gateway of Islam”.essentially equating Islam with Militarism , invasion and forced conversion.

This “rigid” role model is one of the causes of gender and sexual inequalities in Pakistan. A “queer” , “fag” or “gandu” is the ultimate “anti thesis” of the “Male Mujahid” stereotype which governs Pakistan. Its perceived as “ultimate” insult to “masculinity” , which is  “base” of Fascism and Militarism.

In such a situation , i am publishing an article written by a Pakistani homosexual, which was published in an “underground” Pakistani Gay Magzine “Humjinsparast”, which is urdu translation of “Homosexual”.

The article is very inspiring because it speaks of hope and struggle, i recall few lines of Faiz after reading this article. The lines which speak of hope. of a day when tyranny will end, and liberty will rule Pakistan

Ye gham jo iss raat ne diya he

Ye gham Saher ka Yaqeen buna he

Yaqeen jo gham se Kareem tur he

Saher jo Shub se azeem tur he—-

Shaheryar Ali

Our Pakistan

by Khurram

Its been almost ten years when I first realized that I am gay, it was early nineties, since then lots been gone through, although still few but in those days many people had difficulties to understand the difference between gay and transsexuals. I was just considering being a part of Pakistani society where we were ten years ago and how much change came in last ten years.

In 1994 this was happened:

“15-Sep-94: A gay man from Pakistan who lives with his American lover and works at a fast-food restaurant in Kansas City was granted asylum in the U.S. Aug. 31 because of Pakistan’s persecution of homosexuals. “I would be a dead man” if I were deported, the 27-year-old man, “Ali,” told Judge. Pakistani civil law punishes those who have gay sex with two years to life in prison, while Islamic law, which also can be enforced legally, calls for up to 100 lashes or death by stoning. According to the Washington Blade, in 1990, Ali was in a private home with three straight friends when police broke in saying they had been told the men were having sex. The four were taken to the police station and beaten. When Ali’s father came to pick him up, he told the police that if it were true his son were gay, he would kill him. A few months later, Ali was expelled from the Pakistani Cricket Association for being gay, and shortly thereafter, he received a letter from the local Lahore Cricket Association dismissing him from the team for being a “faggot.” That letter was presented as evidence in the U.S. immigration hearing.”

This is 2003, so how much situation changed now? Do I have to answer this question? I don’t think so. We all know the answer.

The above news item talks about two laws, which are enforced in Pakistan, civic law and Islamic law, first of all this is most unfortunate for Jinnah’s Pakistan that we have something which is called as Islamic law. Let’s see what is the Civil Law says for homosexuality, we could also refer this as Pakistan Penal Code (PPC). Section 377 of PPC stated following regarding criminal act of involving in gay sex.

‘Whoever voluntarily has carnal intercourse against the order of nature with any man, woman or animal, shall be punished with imprisonment for life, or with imprisonment of either description for a term which shall not be less than two years nor more than ten years, and shall also be liable to a fine.’

Explanation:
Penetration is sufficient to constitute the carnal intercourse necessary to the offence described in this section.

I am definitely not a lawyer or law student, but the wording I could see clearly talks about intercourse. So considering the law wordings if I love a same sex person, hold his hand, kiss him, I don’t think I am doing any criminal act or do I? Its very clear to me that Pakistani Civil Law allows me to have relationship with man and until I have some sex with penetration, I am not doing any crime, but in Pakistani society am I allowed having relationship and loving a person of same sex? Do I have to answer this question? I don’t think so. We all know the answer.

Now move on to Islamic law, which was re-introduced in 1991 by our beloved Priminister Mian Saheb , that was a time when someone should had asked him what he was thinking to enforce Islamic Laws? The only person who could have asked him anything is Chief of Army Staff and he did that after eight years. The Islamic Law on homosexuality which could be enforce anytime will prevail over civil law calls for up to 100 lashes or death by stoning.

We haven’t heard anyone yet stoned till death by using this law but in Pakistan’s tribal area lashes punishment is very common. Now as N.W.F.P assembly passed the “Shariat Bill” with heavy majority, we could expect some of it as death by stoning and killing by fall of a heavy wall was common at the time of Taliban rule in Afghanistan and by passing the Shariat bill the province also heading for Talibanisation. In the beginning I talked about the comparison of ten years earlier situation from now, one thing I noticed that if this bill was presented ten years ago then there were politicians and other civilian who had the guts to stand against this rigid extremism, but now everyone is so quiet about it as nothing happened. Rightfully said by Human Rights Commission’s Mr Kiyani “No body from N.W.F.P protested because people of that province are so innocent that they don’t know what’s coming towards them on the name of Islam”.

So its very clear that Pakistani society is now on the path of extremism as rigid Islamic parties are gradually progressing forward to take the charge of the country and turn it totally against the dream of Quaid-e-Azam. Just to give you an idea what these parties think about homosexuality I am pasting here the text written on the website of Jamat-e-Islami.

http://www.jamaat.org/qa/homo .html
“In the present time, we are witnessing the wrath of God on these homosexuals in the form of AIDS, which is affecting innocents also.”

How misinform people from Jamat are or they are using AIDS as propaganda against the homosexuality. Well its not only Jamat most of the straight people believe that homosexuals are responsible for AIDS. The World Health Organization reports that heterosexual contact is responsible for over 70% of all AIDS/HIV cases worldwide. According to CDC statistics (July, 1997) heterosexual sex is the fastest growing mode of transmission for HIV in the United States – growing at a rate of 15 to 20 percent a year, compared to 5 percent for intravenous drug users and 5 percent for male homosexuals. However, considering the current scenario it’s not wise to criticize Islamic parties of Pakistan cause it’s their duty to work against liberation. It’s their duty to present Islam as religion of homophobia and taboos. In the country where Shariat Law is a symbol of destroying slogans and hoardings then I don’t think any thing is going to change in next ten years. But again why I am criticizing Pakistani society and Islamic parties, recently remarks made by Republican senator Rick Santorum of US Congress are worst then any remarks made by Pakistan’s Islamic parties. Commenting on a Supreme Court hearing on Sodomy law in the state of Texas he said following in an interview:

“If the Supreme Court says that you have the right to consensual (gay) sex within your home, then you have the right to bigamy, you have the right to polygamy, you have the right to incest, you have the right to adultery. You have the right to anything, man have a right to have sex with dog”.

I don’t believe that he is equating gay sex with incest and bestiality. Also to my surprise no condemnation done by the US Congress and fellow senators on Santorum’s totally inappropriate remarks. Few months back very senior senator Lott had to resign on his very improper remarks about racism but in senator Santorum’s case many other fellow Republican senators are supporting his comments. If things are like this in free world like USA then why complain about our society, but in free world there are many people who have the courage to stand against the hardliner like Sentorum.

It’s very unfortunate that we are desperately short of the people who always stand for human rights and humanity. We which includes you and me and every one else in this country, never tried to fight our battle, because for each of us its not “Our” battle, it is always either my battle or your battle. I, you and we are approaching to the silent death of our rights.

Dedicated to “Hope” as every night has a dawn to follow.

You can reach author at boyjonepk@yahoo.com.

Thanks : Humjisparast , the Pakistani Gay Magzine