This article is from the archive of our partner. Pakistan is one of the most homophobic countries in the world. Pakistan as a gay paradise? We're not entirely convinced, especially since homosexual activity there is illegal and punishable by a prison sentence. Gay rights don't exist there, being openly gay is still looked down upon, gay relationships are hard to come by, and Karachi pretty much fails on every metric of gay life except for one: man-on-man sex.
The Atlantic Crossword
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But what is surprising is how those views compare to Pakistani search traffic around gay-porn-related terms. In major cities such as Lahore and Karachi, gays can develop a network of allies outside their tribe or family, but in conservative Peshawar, gay identity is more complicated. Shereen El Feki, author of the recent book Sex and the Citadel: Intimate Life in a Changing Arab World , says the discrepancy between perceptions around homosexuality and its apparent reality in Pakistan is consistent with her own findings in the Middle East, where, in recent years, the dialogue around sexual identity has been co-opted by fundamentalist clerics. Long before the rise of Islamic conservatism, El Feki says, the Middle East and India had a literary tradition that celebrated gay love, but in recent years, that openness has been forgotten. The reality is that long before the West was talking openly about homosexuality, Arabs in particular were writing about this very frankly. Our history has come to be rewritten by Islamic conservatives.
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