The United Nations has been continuously trying, for over a decade now, to ensure that the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community across the globe manages to get the rights it shouldn’t have to fight for in the first place. Pakistan, however, has been one of the few countries that have remained strong on their stance to not only ignore the rights of the LGBT community but to ensure that members of this community are punished for their ‘unnatural offences’.

Being a country where holding hands with a member of the opposite sex is frowned upon while hugging, cuddling etc with members of the same sex is a social norm, it does seem like Pakistan’s LGBT community faces no problems at all. This however, is not the case.

While it is true that society encourages segregation of the sexes in practically every walk of life and most individuals spend their time socializing with members of the same sex, society becomes highly sensitive when homosexuality is brought into consideration. We are people with a strange set of beliefs; we send our daughters to all girls’ schools and colleges, we disapprove of their male friends, yet when our daughters come out, we immediately get them married off to a man so that they end up spending their lives bearing the children of a man they aren’t even attracted to. It is equally hard for homosexual men who spend their entire lives with women their families get them married to.

Society’s intolerance towards homosexuality is what results in the LGBT community losing all its rights and members of the community being made eligible for punishment which includes imprisonment for up to ten years. Very conveniently, society blames these individuals to have ‘chosen the wrong path’ as a result of which they deserve to be punished. What we fail to understand is the fact that not all members of the LGBT community ‘choose’ to be the way they are. Biologically, an individual gets attracted to members of the same sex as a result of the various different hormones present in the individual’s body. Higher than normal levels of testosterone, a male hormone, in women is likely to make them get attracted to men while higher than normal levels of estrogen, a female hormone, makes men get attracted to other men. What we refer to as an abomination, therefore, is a work of nature itself.

The little progress that the country has made in terms of LGBT rights is the fact that transvestites have been granted several rights including a small fixed quota of two per cent in government jobs, recognition of their gender on their National Identity Cards and ‘equal’ rights in the matters of inheritance etc. This progress, however, cannot be considered as a substantial development since despite the fact that transvestites have ‘equal rights’ under the law, they continue to be marginalized. The fixed quota of jobs might not be of any help for them considering the fact that they’re still not given adequate opportunities to get educated. Most importantly, society as a whole is simply not willing to accept transvestites as equals; they continue being subjected to ridicule and abuse. Granting this group its rights on a piece of paper makes no difference unless these rights are actually protected.

 Unless society starts accepting the LGBT community as a part of itself, ridiculous atrocities will continue to be committed against them. Not too long ago, a man went on a killing spree; his targets being gay men, of course. Considering the prevailing religious fanaticism, the sad thing is that this murderer may end up being hailed as a hero amongst several groups since he ‘killed in the name of God’.

A ‘cleansing campaign’ was launched in Peshawar and landlords of Imamia Colony were pressurized to evict transgender residents in order to put an end to transgender prostitution in the area. It is ironic that the very society that forces these individuals into prostitution as a means of livelihood seeks to put an end to it.

Supporting the idea of providing members of the LGBT community, in no way, encourages homosexuality. It merely seeks to provide a group of human beings with the right to be considered human beings.

The writer is a finance student who enjoys travelling and spends a lot of her time writing about social issues. Follow her on Twitter