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Walking briskly through the Sadar market in downtown Karachi, 46 year-old Wajid Ali looks no different to any other man in the market. But Wajid is gay and if the people around him knew, it would be impossible for him to move around with such ease. There are some places where he can hang out with like-minded people. Jahangir Park, just a mile away from the market, is one of them. When asked what would happen if people knew he was gay he replied that he would be physically attacked and beaten.
This article is from the archive of our partner. Pakistan is one of the most homophobic countries in the world. Pakistan as a gay paradise? We're not entirely convinced, especially since homosexual activity there is illegal and punishable by a prison sentence. Gay rights don't exist there, being openly gay is still looked down upon, gay relationships are hard to come by, and Karachi pretty much fails on every metric of gay life except for one: man-on-man sex. Karachi is home to a lot of it. Like any other country in the world despite Iran's claims to the contrary , Pakistan has a homosexual population. Earlier this summer, for example, the Pew Research Center found that Pakistan was simultaneously one of the most intolerant countries in the world for gay people while at the same time being one of the world leaders in searching for gay porn. Smartphone technology has also helped gay men in Pakistan find relief from society's strictures.
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