Despite both the Vatican and Pakistan being incredibly hostile places for gay people, this week we have strong evidence that they exist in both. According to a recent survey about tolerance, only 2% of people living in Pakistan believe homosexuality should be tolerated in society and yet Pakistan is the world leader in Google searches for gay porn. In the Vatican the pope has given further credence to stories of a shady group of gay priests secretly running things behind the scenes. These revelations should scare homophobes because it is yet more proof that it isn’t a permissive society that ‘turns’ people gay. Being gay is a natural phenomenon. There are gay people all over the place whether it is legal or not, whether they are accepted or not and whether they’re allowed to marry or not.
In Pakistan, where homosexuality is illegal and violently repressed, gay men and women have virtually no opportunity to find each other. There are no LGBT rights, barely an LGBT community and only a nascent LGBT movement. Their lives will probably end in unhappy marriages or jail. Farahnaz Ispahani who was asked for comment in this motherjones article reiterates ‘They [gay Pakistani men] turn to pornography because they can’t live their lives openly.’ It is also perhaps a salutary reminder for those of us in better circumstances not to take for granted the rights and equalities we have and continue to gain.
At least one article has viewed the initial report on Pakistani Google searches as a ‘racist smear’ and an attempt to portray Asian and African countries (Nigeria and Kenya also come close to the top of the world rankings) as sex crazed flaming homosexuals. Leaving aside the homophobic undertones of the article, I disagree with his central premise. While there may have been some shades of this elsewhere, the main thrust of the online commentary hasn’t been about judging the people of Pakistan for watching gay porn. It is about exposing the hypocrisy and futility of outlawing homosexuality and allowing religions to persecute gay men and women. It is also worth remembering Shereen El Feki’s point, that much of the east including India had a very relaxed attitude to homosexuality before colonialism. The anti-homosexuality laws that remain on the books in Pakistan now were imposed by the British and only latterly taken up by conservative Islamic regimes seeking to impose their narrow view of Islam by reducing the rights of women and LGBT people.
In the Vatican gay priests are subject to a similar repression and, perhaps in their search for acceptance, have formed a so called ‘cabal’. The gay lobby was immediately equated with corruption by the pope but I am all for it. Why shouldn’t they advance their own interests whether for the detriment or transformation of the organisation that hates and fears them? Admittedly it wouldn’t have been my first thought on coming out but if you believe in something strongly enough I can see it makes sense.
Of course the Vatican story may fuel speculation about a global gay mafia but as long as they confine their activities to the Catholic church they can only benefit the LGBT community.. Besides adult men in consensual gay relationships shouldn’t really be the primary concern of the catholic church at the moment. When they can stop their priests abusing underage children; only then should they turn their minds to the horrible, dangerous sins of men that love other men.
More on the Vatican and Pakistan:
- Lessons Learned from Pope’s “Gay Lobby” Remark (newwaysministryblog.wordpress.com)
- Pope Francis Admits the Vatican has a ‘Gay Priests Problem’ (greenlight.com.ng)
- Google shows gay porn so popular in Pakistan; most searches coming from Peshawar (thenewstribe.com)