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Pakistan: Man sent to mental asylum for trying to open gay nightclub, sparks outrage

Homosexual acts are criminalised in Pakistan under Section 377 and gay sex is punishable by two years in prison. The man's application for a gay club was leaked on social media and sparked outrage among locals and politicians in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa.

Edited By: Aveek Banerjee @AveekABanerjee Islamabad Published on: June 11, 2024 19:00 IST
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Image Source : AP Representative Image

Islamabad: In a bizarre piece of news, a Pakistani man was sent to a mental hospital by local authorities for trying to open the country's first gay nightclub, according to a report by the UK-based Telegraph. The man had filed an application to set up the club in Abbottabad, a conservative city in northern Pakistan where notorious terrorist Osama bin Laden was found and killed.

The man claimed the club was to be a "great convenience and resource for many homosexual, bisexual and even some heterosexual people residing in Abbottabad in particular, and in other parts of the country in general" in his application to the deputy commissioner of Abbottabad. However, gay sex is illegal in Pakistan and is punishable by two years in prison.

The conservative Islamic culture in Pakistan also prohibits homosexuality, making it very difficult for people to be openly homosexual. The application filed by the man said the envisaged gay club called the 'Lorenzo gay club' would also prohibit gay (or non-gay) sex (other than kissing)." The man was detained by authorities and sent to a mental hospital in Peshawar.

'Wanted to defend human rights'

However, the man trying to set up the club had given an interview to the UK daily, where he asserted that he talked about human rights and wanted "everyone's human rights to be defended". He also disclosed that he would seek a written reply from officials should his application be rejected.

“I have started the struggle for the rights of the most neglected community in Pakistan and I will raise my voice in every forum,” he told The Telegraph. “If the authorities refuse, then I will approach the court and I hope that like the Indian court, the Pakistani court will rule in favour of gay people.”

According to the website of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR), Pakistan still criminalises homosexual acts through Section 377 of its national penal code. The OHCHR document says Pakistan's provisions against homosexuality have been found to "constitute a clear violation of international human rights law".

Gay club application ignites fury among Pakistanis

When the application to leak the gay club in Pakistan was leaked on social media, locals and politicians in the restive Khyber Pakhtunkhwa responded furiously, warning of "serious consequences" if permission was granted, which was very unlikely. An MP from the right-wing Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PATY) party threatened to douse the building with petrol and set it on fire.

The leader of Jamiat Ulema Islam (JUI) claimed the man had recently returned from a trip to the United Kingdom. The Telegraph reported that the man was transferred to the Sarhad hospital for psychiatric treatment in Peshawar on May 9, as his friends remain extremely concerned for his well-being after being barred from visiting the man.

“I do not know about his well-being for many days” they said, adding that they had “tried to find out about him a couple of times but without success”. The DC office in Abbottabad confirmed that an application in this regard was received and being reviewed like any other proposal.

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