How gay is Pakistan?

Going through the Netflix videos I had added to my list, I came across the documentary that I was so interested in – ‘How gay is Pakistan’. I wondered if a white person visited the country, perhaps an American and asked about the gay scene in the country. I was pleasantly surprised to see a Pakistani-British gay man, Mawaan Rizwan fly back to Pakistan to find out what his life could have been like if his parents had not moved to the UK and if he was still living in his birth country, Pakistan.


With his parents telling him that LGBT ways of life would have been impossible for him in the country, he set out to find out for himself. What he discovered was that being homosexual could be life-threatening in the country or it could mean a suppressed and depressed life or a secret life isolated away from family and lifelong friends. It could mean that the only people you could interact with would be someone who was homosexual.

It was discovered that physical and sexual abuse is a huge part of anyone who identifies themselves as homosexual or transgender in the country. And if they haven’t been molested or raped, they are not accepted in society and beaten or humiliated verbally, and sometimes give in to the only means of income they can think of – prostitution.

But in the midst of it all, the LGBT community seemed to find ways of retaining hope for a better life for themselves and having fun, whether it be planning a wedding in another country or going to secret parties and dancing through the night.

It was cringing to see a stranger start a heated conversation with a transgender female on the street and telling her to get herself treated. There also seemed to be a ‘cure’ to become ‘normal’ again with certain herbal medicines, which Mawaan tried himself and they obviously didn’t work.

A lot of times, we take things for granted. But we could easily be in someone else’s shoes. It’s just a matter of which family and country we were born into. Being a minority in a country or in the world comes with certain challenges, whether it be defined by gender, sexual orientation, race, color, language, religion, education, economic status, immigration status, height, weight, abilities/disabilities. Sometimes we are fortunate enough that the family we were born into is supportive or the country we live in is at the least tolerant or safe to live freely, without constant fear. A lot of us in the world aren’t living in the country of origin. A lot of us or people close to us are minorities in some way. Yet, sometimes we tend to understand and stand up for some and completely disregard another. But the fact is, that they are not very different. And if you are reading this, the odds are that you are fortunate to not be in immediate danger of someone threatening you for who you are. There are two sides to this coin. Gratitude and perseverance to continue to move toward the best possible future.



  1. Our family is made up of minorities in many ways and I frequently think about what if we had been born during Hitler’s reign of terror, for instance? Or some other dictatorship or right wing/fundamentalist regime? Or a country with no health service or social safety net? We have no Jewish members but several with disabilities or physical/mental health conditions that would have had us sent away and disposed of. We have religious and political refugees, children who’s parent can no longer take care of them, and yet we don’t see ourselves as individuals belonginto minority groups. We are a close-knit family getting on with our lives and this is only possible because we live where we do. It is pure chance that we were born here or came to live here when others were imprisoned or killed for adhering to the ‘wrong’ religion. Things could have been very different. Good to have you back 😊💜

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