Pots of gold and sacks of coal: Snapshot of the gay community

Published: October 30, 2011


Afghanistan did away with the death penalty after the fall of the Taliban in 2001 but homosexual acts still remain punishable with fines and a prison sentence.


In June of 2009, the Delhi High Court declared section 377 of the Indian Penal Code, which criminalised homosexuality, invalid. The ruling was made in the landmark case of Naz Foundation v. Govt. of NCT, where the court held that the criminalisation of consensual homosexual sex between adults was a violation of fundamental rights protected by the country’s constitution.

Indian Soap-Opera

A popular Indian soap, “Maryada: Lekin Kab Tak?” (Honour: But at What Cost?), was one of the first television shows in the country to feature a homosexual character. The show is focused on a conservative family in a small town in India, the Jhaakar clan, whose eldest son Gaurav is gay.

Bollywood Gay Movie

Dunno Y…Na Jaane Kyon, directed by Sanjay Sharma, premiered in April 2010 at India’s first mainstream gay film festival, the Kashish Mumbai International Queer Film Festival. Featuring the first gay kiss in Indian cinema, the film met a barrage of protests and controversy, with some multiplexes even refusing to screen the film, claiming the openly homosexual content would be inappropriate to screen in their family-friendly theatres. The real life parents of Yuvraaj Parashar, one of two lead characters, also initiated legal action to disown him because of the shame arising from the film, claiming to “not want to see his face even in death.”


Jamaica has one of the most stringent sodomy laws in the world, with homosexual activity carrying a 10 year jail sentence. Many attribute Jamaica’s intense homophobia to the anti-gay music scene which promotes gay-bashing. Banton, one of the nation’s most popular dancehall singers, boasted of shooting gays with Uzis and burning their skin with acid in his 1992 song, Boom Bye-Bye.


A bill that imposed the death penalty for some homosexual acts and life in prison for others was shelved after an international uproar. The legislation was submitted after a visit by leaders of conservative Christian ministries from the United States who offered therapy, claiming that they could convert gays to heterosexuals.

 ‘Outed’ and hunted down

In October 2010, Ugandan paper Rolling Stone published photos, names and addresses of Uganda’s 100 “top” homosexuals, inciting their readers to hang them. Many Ugandans were attacked after the publication as a result of their real or perceived sexual orientation. Sexual Minorities Uganda leader David Kato, one of the activists outed in the article, was murdered in his home by an assailant who struck him twice in the head with a hammer.

South Africa

Although South Africa is the only African nation which recognises gay marriage, it is home to intense homophobia. Roving gangs carry out so-called “corrective” rapes on lesbians, claiming to “cure” them of their sexual orientation by sexually assaulting them.

United States of America

“Don’t ask, don’t tell” (DADT) was the official policy of the United States on homosexuals serving in the military from December 21, 1993 to September 20, 2011. The policy allowed closeted homosexual or bisexual service members or applicants but barred openly gay, lesbian, or bisexual persons from military service.  In July of 2011, a federal appeals court barred the further enforcement of the DADT. Congress then declared that the DADT policy would end by September 20, 2011.

 Archie Comics

Kevin Keller became the first openly gay character in Archie Comics history in Veronica #202, published on September 2010. The move was made to keep the world of Archie comics inclusive and updated. Keller will star in his own solo title which will debut in February 2012.

 Gay Panic Defence

The gay panic defence is a legal defence against charges of assault or murder. A defendant can use the gay panic defence by claiming that he or she acted in a state of violent temporary insanity because of a little-known psychiatric condition called homosexual panic. Similarly, Trans panic is used in cases where the victim is a transgender or intersex person.

 Ex-Gay Movement

The movement, started in the early 1970s, initially sought to help people who struggled with unwanted same-sex attractions, but through the years became more politicised and involved in speaking out against the civil rights of LGBT people. The majority of participants and leaders are white Evangelical Christian males. Ex-gay organisations use a variety of methods to eliminate same-sex sexual orientation, from minor techniques like psychoanalysis, group therapy to horrific ones involving electric shock or nausea-inducing drugs.

 Gay Marriage

Since 2001, ten countries have begun allowing same-sex couples to marry nationwide: Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Iceland, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, South Africa, and Sweden. Same-sex marriages are also performed and recognised in Mexico City and parts of the United States. Some jurisdictions that do not perform same-sex marriages recognise same-sex marriages performed elsewhere: Israel, the Caribbean countries of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, parts of the United States, and all states of Mexico.

 Mental Disorder

Homosexuality was once thought to be a mental disorder by the American Psychological Association (APA). Further research led to its removal by the APA from its list of diagnoses and disorders.


Greece has the most discriminatory laws pertaining to homosexuality in Europe. Discrimination through sexual orientation is allowed and homosexuality is banned in the army. Male prostitution is illegal while no such ban exists for female prostitution and the police are authorised to forcibly require gay men to be tested for sexually transmitted diseases.


Malaysia still maintains a law against sodomy, which is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, though prosecutions are rare.

Malaysian Gay Film

The non-explicit version of Dalam Botol (In a Bottle), a film about a Muslim man who undergoes a sex-change operation to please his boyfriend but realises later that he may have been better off being a man, was a major success in Malaysia despite a ban on films that show support for gay lifestyles.


China, home to an estimated 30 million homosexuals, severely persecuted homosexuals during the Cultural Revolution. Sodomy was finally decriminalised in 1997, while the Chinese Psychiatric Association stopped listing homosexuality as a mental illness in 2001.


In 2007, Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, speaking to Columbia University, said “We don’t have homosexuals, like in your country. I don’t know who told you that.” An aide later said that he was misquoted and was actually saying that “compared to American society, we don’t have many homosexuals”. The aide further clarified that “because of historical, religious and cultural differences homosexuality is less common in Iran and the Islamic world than in the West”.

Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, October 30th, 2011.

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Reader Comments (15)

  • eyeroll
    Oct 30, 2011 - 2:20PM

    Great job ET, Lets do also do features on those who advocate incest, pedophilia and bestiality. Make sure to use token helpless victims with sad stories, tear jerking anecdotes of personal struggles and awe-inspiring stories of anonymous online activism. Then demand rights for all of them, if possible make a film with cute colorful banner advertisements.


  • Dizorus
    Oct 30, 2011 - 5:11PM

    To the person who replied earlier, that was an extremely ignorant statement.the way you put things across, it seems any sort of coitus should be considered abnormal, including heterosexuality then. What happens in bed between two consenting adults Is nobodies business and they have no right to be denied any right. Homosexuality has been prevalent from the earliest of records and the blatantly stupid way of comparing homosexuality to pedophilia,rape,murder,bestiality and other unconsensual and harmful things is just very blatantly ignorant of you in this day and age. And I pity you have a very black and white view of things.
    You should have been born different and denied rights in order to understand .


  • Haider
    Oct 30, 2011 - 8:39PM

    @ Eyeroll:

    You clearly don’t understand the concept of ‘consent’.


  • Oct 30, 2011 - 9:00PM

    Equality still eludes gay service members. Thanks to DOMA legally married same-sex military spouses are denied health insurance, commissary, housing allowance and other base privileges as compared to their opposite-sex married counterparts. For those interested – OUTmilitary.com has been providing a supportive environment for friending, sharing and networking between Gay active military, vets and supporters since December, 2010.


  • Oct 30, 2011 - 11:46PM

    How did you manage to leave out Pakistan and Gulf countries ?


  • Ali Tanoli.
    Oct 31, 2011 - 12:43AM

    Its a cusrt and against the nature law please read the history of Looth (Ale salaam) and
    then god punishmint.


  • Oct 31, 2011 - 1:53AM

    Come on people. In Pakistan it takes a lot to prove a single viewpoint, and as I mentioned somewhere else too, some two percent people in Pakistan are strong proponents of “individualism, freedom and capitalism-Liberalism, therefore topics such as, (as someone put it here correctly) coitus is the best way to start breaking the shackles of conservatism and religion. The two percent liberals need space; they need to talk about things of their interest; they are fed up of reading, hearing and watching the traditional, old-fashioned topics on which the media capitalizes. They need to talk about things which have been existing in the entire world, things which our society brushed under the carpet and label them as ‘taboo’. The two percent liberals need to breathe too; they cannot go to other regions of the world just to need space. They need to vent and let the rest of the society know that opposing viewpoints need to be pushed into the society as well. And for that matter, there is no point in mentioning Quranic references or the hadith as it wouldn’t make a difference; most of the time, they would subject such ideas to mockery because ‘religion is to be separated from the rest of the matters; its personal and everyone is accountable themselves for their deeds) rather it would aggravate the already ‘suppressed’ feelings of a particular lot. Since, this is a platform which supports liberalism, let people have their say. Let them talk about things which we consider taboo, but to them, they are part of life!


  • eyeroll
    Oct 31, 2011 - 1:00PM

    @dizorus and haider
    your consent is relevant if there is no consent of God. Pick up any british and american newspapers and there are numerous cases of teacher-student affairs making the news, alot of these affairs are consensual, yet there is a conviction of pedophillia, statutory rape and registration as sex -offenders. So seriously consent is not everything – Unnatural sexual acts remain unnatural. The law cannot be changed for the few hundered that exist in the society.Recommend

  • Oct 31, 2011 - 3:34PM

    @eyeroll: I second you.


  • MAD
    Oct 31, 2011 - 4:39PM

    Whatever happens to them they deserve him. (unless ofcourse they repent). Im all for liberalism but i draw the line at homosexuality.


  • Ali
    Oct 31, 2011 - 5:36PM

    what is this crap?


  • Haider
    Oct 31, 2011 - 9:56PM

    I live in UK and I suggest you see this link, to get a better understanding of what actually is ‘consent’.


  • Desi
    Nov 1, 2011 - 6:39PM

    @Haider: It’s not UK! so better keep your views at bay.


  • fareeha
    Nov 1, 2011 - 9:00PM

    homosexuality does happen in pathan culture and is quite prevalent. Also in the regions in Afghanistan etc it is rampant. There are many studies which indicate the plight of young boys on the streets and especially ones who accompany truck drivers on long trips are sexually abused/ have consenual sex. So if people deny that it does not happen in Pakistan should do some research. it is more common than you think.


  • Dizorus
    Nov 1, 2011 - 9:37PM

    your consent is relevant if there is no consent of God. Pick up any british and american newspapers and there are numerous cases of teacher-student affairs making the news, alot of these affairs are consensual, yet there is a conviction of pedophillia, statutory rape and registration as sex -offenders. So seriously consent is not everything – Unnatural sexual acts remain unnatural. The law cannot be changed for the few hundered that exist in the society.

    I don’t see why you keep involving minors into this. This is not “Pedophilia” . Homosexuality is like, heterosexuality , except , a persons interest is towards the same gender , It is either caused because of environmental or genetic reasons which is not fully confirmed . It’s very simple. It’s extremely difficult and near impossible to revert, just like how The idea of a heterosexual person like yourself suddenly wanting to convert to homosexual seems so far fetched.

    Also I am shocked at your last sentence where you state a few hundred homosexuals exist in society Please read articles about the same and learn that there are literally Millions and millions of homosexual people around !

    It’s so easy to burn down cities and kill people in the name of God and beliefs but we are so apathetic to the fact all religion promotes love and compassion .


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