Pakistani, Kenya, gay porn, flags, gay, homosexual, LGBTQ

Pakistan and Kenya Are Very Anti-Gay, Very Into Gay Porn

According to a study of Google Trends, Pakistan ranks first in the world for searches of “man fucking man” and second for “gay sex pics” (just behind Kenya); both ranked very high for searches on “shemale sex” (a transphobic slur common in transgender porn). And all this is interesting because Pakistan and Kenya both rank among the lowest in acceptance of homosexuality and LGBTQ rights.

Hypocritically, the Pakistani penal code also “prohibits the sale, distribution, exhibition, ownership or importation of any, ‘obscene’ books, pamphlets, or other literature or images,” and Kenya has similar anti-porn laws. Presumably both include images of “man fucking man” and “gay sex pics”.

So why are these countries consuming so much gay porn?

If this makes you think of that study from a few years ago showing how conservative red states consume the most online porn, then you’ve got an inkling of why. These countries are so repressive against same-sex intercourse, that one of the only ways men can express their same-sex desires is through web porn.

But another cultural factor could be at play. Farahnaz Ispahani, an expert in Pakistani minorities, says “The popularity of gay porn could stem from the fact that even highly observant Muslim males often have physical relationships with men without considering themselves gay.”

That might remind you of recent studies of straight-identified men having “bud-sex” together or watching gay pornography without identifying as gay, but there’s a significant difference. Like American men from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Pakistani culture is more accepting of public displays of physical affection between men than modern America. Holding hands or kissing a man on the mouth is considered friendly in Pakistan and isn’t regarded as “gay” as it is in the U.S..

How homophobic are Pakistan and Kenya?

Thanks to a combination of Islamic and British colonial law, Pakistan has laws criminalizing same-sex intercourse (resulting in occasional blackmailing by police), no hate crime laws or employment anti-discrimination protections for LGBTQ people. However, in 2009, the Pakistani Supreme Court asked the government for non-discrimination protections for transgender, cross-dressing and gender nonconforming citizens, so that’s something.

In Kenya, same-sex sexual activity is punishable by up to 14 years in prison and anti-LGBT mob violence is common as aggressors feel confident that they’ll face no punishments for killing or injuring known LGBTQ people. The country also uses forced anal exams to “prove” the “guilt” of suspected gay/bi men and trans women. While the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights issued reports in 2011 and 2012 advocating for greater acceptance and decriminalization of LGBTQ people, the country’s Christianist leaders and other government officials still advocate for ostracizing and punishing queer Kenyans.

Should we oppose these countries for being anti-LGBTQ?

In short, no; for several reasons.

For one, each country has its own LGBTQ populations and organizations working for change; shunning these countries would also abandon our queer family members living there. Right now, the National Gay and Lesbian Human Rights Commission—one of Kenya’s leading LGBT rights organizations—is pursuing a case in the country’s high court that could remove criminal penalties for same-sex intercourse. Meanwhile in Pakistan, the Naz Male Health Alliance offers counseling and STI testing for gay and bisexual men and pushes for larger cultural change while other LGBTQ people unite through private online forums.

Second, conservatives and racists like President-elect Donald Trump use pro-gay Islamophobia and xenophobia to justify violence against Muslims and people of color, domestically and abroad. The truth is that white Christian extremists kill more people in the U.S. than Islamic extremists, and Islamic extremists kill Muslims more than any other group. When we blame Muslims and other foreigners for anti-LGBTQ violence, we perpetuate violence against all Muslims and foreigners (including queer ones).

Lastly, the religious and colonial laws feeding each country’s homophobia cover cover up the fact that they both had thriving same-sex relationships before fundamentalism and colonialism reared their ugly heads. Shereen El Feki, author of the book Sex and the Citadel: Intimate Life in a Changing Arab World, told Mother Jones:

“You find in most civilizations in the Global South a much more open approach to homosexuality—irrespective of its status in religious and theological doctrine—than you find today. So very often, any attempt to open a dialogue in the Arab region is branded as some ‘Western conspiracy’ to undermine traditional Arab and Muslim values. 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.”

Kenya, as well as many precolonial African societies, used to practice mutual masturbation between men, a fact which has been lost as Kenyan government officials decry homosexuality as a European import.