Identity And Homophobia
By Tahmina Rashid
01 June, 2007
is in the grip of homophobia after the same sex couple was imprisoned
for three years for perjury. The sensational response that this incident
received in Urdu and English newspapers highlights our homophobic attitudes,
Issues surrounding gender identity and lack of empathy as human beings.
Many draw reference to Islamic Laws as well as Pakistani laws dealing
with homosexuality. Homophobia is not unique to Pakistan; Western societies
are equally unable to grapple with the complexity of related socio-legal
issues and social attitudes towards same sex relationships.
Comments suggesting homosexuality
as a western issue, outside our social norms & spectrum or a psychological
problem needs to be referred to specialists rather than leaving to people
who lack compassion for fellow human beings and have a very narrow view
of human psychology and issues. People born without a defined male or
female biological and psychological identity may suppress their feelings
and continue to live with the socially assigned gender identity. However,
Pakistani socity seems to lack the capacity to deal with these issues
in a humane manner. Generally, such people become social outcasts and
this was reflected through the language used by newspapers as she-couple
Keeping our social attitudes
aside for a moment, we need to contextualize the question of homosexuality.
It's not a new phenomenon and religions have similar views on homosexuality
- the only accepted form of gender relations is between a man and a
woman and procreation being the prime driving force. Quran has referred
to homosexuality on three different occasions:
What! do you come to the
males from among the creatures. And leave what your Lord has created
for you of your wives? Nay, you are a people exceeding limits.
(Al-Shuara, V: 165-166)
What! do you indeed approach
men lustfully rather than women? Nay, you are a people who act ignorantly.
(Al-Naml, V: 55)
And (We sent) Lut when he
said to his people: Most surely you are guilty of an indecency which
none of the nations has ever done before you. What! do you come to the
males and commit robbery on the highway, and you commit evil deeds in
your assemblies? But nothing was the answer of his people except that
they said: Bring on us Allah's punishment, if you are one of the truthful.
(Al-Ankaboot, V: 28- 29)
Two important things need
to be kept in mind, the accepted and prevalent form of sexual relationship
is heterosexual therefore refers to gays and not lesbians. The act of
penetration is not involved in this situation therefore; previous works
refrained from penalizing or criminalizing lesbian relationships. Current
Pakistani laws do not deal with such issues and need serious debate
not hastily made moral judgments on issues as well as people concerned.
It would be unwise, even to suggest that courts can give capital punishment
or life imprisonment in such cases without examining the issues involved.
Homosexuality neither is a curse, nor vulgarity spread by local media,
or obscenity preventable through prayer and Friday sermons.
Many areas in Pakistan have
historically been known homosexuality, therefore suggesting that this
is a new phenomenon, is distortion of our own social realities. If religion
leaves few things outside the purview of laws, society should also learn
to leave people alone and not judge them because they have different
choices in life. Hardly have we heard voices of reason, compassion and
love, and need to stop punishing people just because they have the capacity
to love differently.
The Case Of Shahzima
Tariq And Shamial Raj
On Entering Into "Same Sex" Marriage
By Nighat Majid
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