A Pakistani transvestite takes part in a rally with others to support their arrested colleague Raani, whose real name was given as Kashif, in Peshawar June 3, 2010. Pakistani police arrested what they said on last week was an entire wedding party at a ceremony between a man and a transvestite, accusing the pair of promoting homosexuality in the devoutly Muslim country. REUTERS/Fayaz Aziz
According to data published by the American Pew Research Centre, Pakistan and Nigeria are two of the most homophobic and LGBT intolerant countries in the world. In the report (available here), Pew claims:
"There is broad acceptance of homosexuality in North America, the European Union, and much of Latin America. However, rejection of homosexuality is equally widespread in predominantly Muslim nations and in sub-Saharan Africa, as well as in parts of Asia and in Russia."
Specifically, the survey of 39 countries finds Spain, Germany, the Czech Republic and Canada display the most tolerance, with at least 80% of respondents claiming society should accept homosexuality.
At the other end of the spectrum, sub-Saharan African nations including Nigeria, Senegal, Ghana and Uganda displayed shocking levels of intolerance, with over 95% claiming homosexuality was unacceptable. Kenya was close behind, with a 90% response figure.
In other parts of the world, the Middle East also registered disapproval rates in excess of 90%, with Tunisia, Jordan, Egypt and the Palestinian territories strongly against homosexuality. The trend of Muslim nations responding negatively extended to Indonesia (93%) and Pakistan (87%).
Google Trends Reveals Truths
In an interesting twist, tracking features offered by internet search giant Google reveal that most search requests for same-sex pornography come from Pakistan.
An analysis (available here) by Mother Jones shows the Muslim country is the world leader, by number of searches, for terms relating to graphic homosexual pornography.
The report adds that most such searches come from the interior of the country and from conservative areas such as Peshawar.
Equally interesting is the paradigm within which Muslim men have physical relationships with men without classifying themselves as "gay".
Mother Jones quotes Farahnaz Ispahani, an expert in Pakistani minorities at the Woodrow Wilson International Centre for Scholars and a former member of Pakistan's parliament, as saying, "The real love they can have that most of us find with a partner, they find with men. They mostly see their wives as the mother of their children."
Ispahani also speculated that the rise in internet searches might be running parallel with the rise of religious extremism in the country.
"Hindus are being forced to convert, Christians are being burned alive - there's very little personal safety for those seen as 'the other'. So what do [gay Pakistanis] do? They turn to pornography because they can't live their lives openly," she said.
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