Pakistan’s Biggest Gay Cruising Spot is an Islamic Shrine

Daniel Greenfield, a Shillman Journalism Fellow at the Freedom Center, is a New York writer focusing on radical Islam. He is completing a book on the international challenges America faces in the 21st century.


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It is Pakistan so there are only so many options. It’s either a Muslim mosque, Muslim tomb or an internet cafe. And the internet cafes have limited space.

But the BBC does report that Karachi, Pakistan is a gay paradise. If you overlook the death by stoning provision of the Islamic Hudood ordinances, which the BBC tastefully does, blaming the British colonial era for criminalizing homosexuality and implying that prison sentences are rarely handed out. Left unmentioned is that this is mainly because the “openly gay” men who show up in reports like these come from the upper classes.

Danyaal, as he’s asked to be known, is a 50-something businessman who lives in an affluent part of Karachi, and uses his smartphone to organise Karachi’s gay party scene.

“These days there are smartphone apps that use GPS to tell you how close you are to another gay person with an online profile. There are thousands of gay men online in Pakistan at any one time.”

The party scene is big – so big, he jokes, that he rarely gets time to himself. “If you want sex too, it’s a gay man’s paradise. If you want a relationship, that may be more difficult.”

Where is the Mecca of this gay sex paradise? As close to Mecca as anyone in Karachi can get. An Islamic shrine.

Sex between men occurs in some very public places – including, surprisingly, Karachi’s busiest shrine.

Families go to the Abdullah Shah-Ghazi shrine to honour the holy man buried there and to ask for God’s blessings, but it is also Karachi’s biggest cruising ground.

Every Thursday evening, as the sun sets, men from across the city gather there. A tightly packed circle is formed and those in the centre of the circle are groped by those on the periphery.

To outsiders it looks like a writhing mass of men huddling around one another. Some even describe it as a “mysterious religious ceremony”. For participants, it’s anonymous group sex.

Who says Islam is homophobic? It has its mysterious religious ceremonies.

“We get important people – police, army officers and ministers too,” says one masseur, Ahmed.  He claims to have slept with more than 3,000 men during his working life – despite having two wives and eight children.

One of his wives, Sumera, wears a burka and the niqab, but she has no objection to her husband’s chosen profession and wishes more people would keep an open mind. “I know he has sex. No problem. If he doesn’t work how will the kids eat?”

Maybe he could have fewer wives and then he wouldn’t need to worry about infecting them with diseases. But clearly Pakistani schools don’t cover that in Home Ec.

“There was an instance where two boys were caught having sex in a field,” says Iqbal. “The family tried to bribe the police with money because they didn’t want the story going public. When the police wouldn’t back down the family asked for one detail to be changed – they wanted their son to be presented as the active sexual partner. For them, their son being passive would be even more shameful.”

That is why rape is semi-legal for the man in Muslim countries, but a crime for women. It’s also why the dancing boys are abused in Afghanistan.

  • Chuck

    This is the dirty little secret of the muslim world. And it gets little traction in the media here in the US because, after all, who would want to send their sons and daughters halfway around the world to expend American blood and treasure on behalf of sodomites, child rapists and pederasts?

    When I served in Afghanistan, we referred to Thursday as “man-love Thursday” because, well, that’s what happened when our Afghan interpreters, ANA and ANP would disappear for a few hours. Note that it happens on Thursday because on Friday they all go to the mosque to, I assume, pray for forgiveness.

    • Aizino Smith

      Not that I do not doubt you but could not they have gone home to their wives for a few hours in some cases or did they live too far away?

      I figure many of the ANA would live too far away but not the interpreters or ANP. But I am speaking from a position of ignorance as I was not in Afghanistan.

  • Aizino Smith

    “Maybe he could have fewer wives and then he wouldn’t need to worry about infecting them with diseases.”

    Among the gay intelligentsia the above statement makes no sense. The solution according to them is a Manhattan Project to cure AIDS, syphilis and STDs that have yet to evolve.

    Their trump card is that people are going to do it, so let’s have no shaming, prevention education, etc

  • Muslim Comments
  • Omar Farooq

    Rubbish !
    I live five minutes walk from the Shrine and there is no such thing I have ever witnessed. Yes you may find plenty of junkies smoking hash in circles and heroin addicts but like the author described the organized gay sex party. Nah that’s a total nonsense,