BBC Three is a channel that aims to challenge the defined gender roles and change people’s perception regarding them. One recent contribution in this regard is a documentary based on the society of Pakistan. The documentary How Gay is Pakistan features Mawaan Rizwan; an actor and comedian who shot to fame with the success of his YouTube channel MalumTV.

Earlier this year, Mawaan opened up to his parents about his homosexuality and they were not particularly happy about it. So he thought of visiting his homeland, Pakistan, to analyze why there is lack of acceptance for homosexuality and how life for the gay community is within such a society.

He decided to visit two cities. First up; the city of Karachi, which supposedly is one of the most dangerous cities around the world. As he starts his journey, he claims that being a Pakistani and being gay are two things that do not go hand in hand. He visited the inner city to look more like a “normal Pakistani” who does not wear skinny jeans. As he walks around the city, he observes rainbow chicks, men in pink hats and men holding hands in public and comments that it all seems pretty gay to him.

A 2013 survey is mentioned, in which only 2% Pakistani accepted homosexuality. However, he is soon invited to a gay gathering by Kami and Sid; who openly support gay rights in Pakistan. He meets people who tell him how it is dangerous for them to publically accept their sexuality. There is a fair chance that they might get killed because no one stands up for them. They resort to violence themselves because of the situation that they are put in. And they do not have the option of leaving the country. They have come to believe that, unlike everyone else, they cannot have normal relationships. And the law also does not offer them any protection because homosexuality is an offence punishable by law.

Kami and Sid want to get married. But they want to stay within Pakistan because they believe that it is one of the coolest countries in the world. He also narrates the story of Shehzadi; who tried to adopt manly ways but felt more comfortable in being a women and is hence, taking hormones for transition.

Next up was his meeting with a local Imam, Maulana Hakim Akbar Das, to discuss the issue of homosexuality. He asks Maulana how he deals with those who confess about their homosexuality. Maulana says that he asks them to pray for forgiveness for the sin they have committed. Mawaan then tells him about his homosexuality, to which he says that people do not hate the patient but the disease. He tells him that there are elements within the society which would want to eliminate him, if he publically announces his sexual orientations. He advises him to remain quiet about it or leave the country. He also gives him a cure for this disease, which, to no surprise, does not work.

He, then, visits Lahore and introduces Naz Male Health Alliance; one of the only organizations working with the LGBT community. They provide them a platform where they can be counselled and treated for STDs. Some of the LGBT participants of the gatherings told Mawaan that it’s a nice break from the outside world because mostly, they are looking for companionship. It’s a safe haven for the community who can be kidnapped anytime and people can treat them however they like.

He also found that, since Pakistani women are not easily accessible, it is common for straight men to indulge in MSM and there is general acceptance within the society for this particular act.

Mawaan concludes by saying that Pakistan is not entirely as his parents had described it. There is an LGBT community that fights for survival every day and behind closed doors, there is a sense of community and identity for them. These people are setting the basis for acceptance and change and there are people present within the community (if not many) who are ready to listen to their stories and help them.