Pakistan ‘Crime’ Story Spurs Homophobic Outpour

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Credit: Lars Lundqvist on Flickr, under Creative Commons

(WOMENSENEWS)– This week, an unverified print story in The News, one of Pakistan’s English-language newspapers, spread rapidly through the media and showed how far the country is from any kind of LGBT rights.

The story was presented as an expose of a "lesbian center" in Islamabad that is running a sex racket. The reporter, who is keen to mention that he has been "reporting crime for 35 years," writes that a woman at the heart of the case is running a "sex racket" by "exploiting and blackmailing" young women to spread this "kind of social evil."

The story went viral on social media with journalists using the hashtag #LesbianCenter. Some brushed it off as fake news, while others made fun of its poor quality.

The majority of responses, however, provided an outpouring of homophobia.

Even Abid Sher Ali, Pakistan’s federal minister for water and power, got involved.

One of Pakistan’s prime time talk shows, "Capital Talk," decided to produce a program about these "crimes against women" on television.

The show followed the reckless lead and purple prose of The News, which described the suspect as an "evil soul." Its coverage mixed such phrasing as the "disease of homosexuality" with generous portions of condemnation.

When one female guest, a social worker, asked why this specific alleged sex racket was attracting more media notice than the hundreds of illegal brothels across the country, the host called for an advertisement break. The implied question of whether the lesbian element explained the outbreak of press attention was left unanswered.

Some Twitter posters poured invective on Minister Ali in the name of women’s rights.

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