Disclaimer: The pictures used in this article are, of average Pakistani guy on the street. I really wanted to dispel this weird European myth that Pakistani men aren’t good-looking. Please take the pictures in the spirit.
I have never enjoyed writing about the gay life of a country as much as this one. I spent a big part of my life in Pakistan growing up and sit tight I have a few secrets to share about this secretive world; gay Pakistan. I mean I have lived in London and seen most of the LGBT and gay hot spots around the globe but this is something else altogether.
Funny enough it is the story of most homophobic countries where being gay is illegal. There is a definite pattern when it comes to underground gay life in such countries be it Pakistan, Kenya or Tanzania.
Check out my ultimate Pakistan Travel Guide for complete details to go fully informed for a perfect holiday.
Being Gay In Pakistan
Pakistan is a stunning country with huge diversity amongst landscape and people both but there’s a bitter aftertaste from colonial era of intolerance and homophobia where being gay is criminalised and most of the gay population lives underground. In terms of trans rights things have made surprising amount of progress in very short time. Partly, it is due to the culture and history.
In Royal courts trans people and eunuch were given revered positions and they were established as a gift of God. Even now it is widely believed if you upset them, something bad will happen to you if they curse you. Things have gone from trans people not being acknowledged to getting a separate sex (X) with identity cards, passports and voting rights and even getting employment in government sector. Things are different when it comes to being gay though.
As a foreigner you need to know a few things before heading to Pakistan as a gay traveller.
Check out my country guide for Pakistan for all your questions answered.
Location, Location, Location
Guys are very different across Pakistan. the friendliest ones are in Karachi, the nicest ones in Islamabad, the bitchiest ones in Lahore. Guys in Peshawar are quite difficult but up north they are sweeter. Everywhere you go, things will change.
Legal Status of Homosexuality in Pakistan
Homosexuality is illegal and carries a prison sentence if you get caught. For complete details check the Equaldex Pakistan page. If caught red handed you are also at the risk of mob violence, there have been cases where people were tourutred or even killed for being gay in Pakistan.
LGBT Organisations in Pakistan
While there are some underground charities that help people in bigger cities in Pakistan spreading awareness about safe sex and use of condoms etc, there is no official charity or channel that helps LGB community of Pakistan.
There are a couple of organisations that work for sexual health, HIV and trans rights in Pakistan. If you’re interested i can put you in touch with them. please drop me an email with details and I’ll pass it on to them.
Gay Neighbourhoods in Pakistan
There are no gay neighbourhoods or gaybourhoods in the country. There are certain areas which are ‘cruising-friendly’ but I wouldn’t recommend a tourist to be seen anywhere near those.
Check out this sweet story about a gay guy from Pakistan whose enthusiasm I dearly love.
Gay Businesses In Pakistan
Sadly there are no gay tour companies or business that operate in Pakistan.
Gay Bars in Pakistan
This is a bit of a defunct thing since there are no bars in Pakistan at all, straight or not.
Gay Beaches in Pakistan
There are also no gay beaches and despite a huge coastline the beaches in Pakistan are pretty average. There are huge expanses on the coastline in Baluchistan which provide some privacy but I’d suggest not getting into any dangerous situation. Be very cautious. There are some private parties in Karachi at the beach but you need to know people and police does raid such parties to extort people.
Gay Scene in Pakistan
There is a huge gay scene in Pakistan. I mean it is the seventh most populous country in the world, nothing unusual there. The society on the whole is pretty intolerant of homosexuality. Actually anything related to your genitals, gender, sex or sexuality is automatically considered taboo and you cannot talk about it. There are so many myths and mysteries about puberty and sex that it blows my mind. A common myth is that you’re not supposed to ejaculate and masturbation causes blood loss. (I want to pull my hair out honestly!).
Manscaping to the Max!
You will also encounter the problem of pubes shaving, every one here is a clean shaven patch down there as well as armpits. It is considered extremely unclean if you have pubic or underarm hair. Here are some more fun things you will encounter.
The Curse of Bisexuality
Being gay is considered bad so most guys prefer to label themselves as bisexual. Treat the label with a pinch of salt.
The Curse of Top-ism
Every one is a top here. Anything other than that means de-masculanisation. No one wants that in a society like Pakistan. Things are changing a bit now and more guys are considering it okay to be versatile. Don’t take the top thig too seriously as well, a lot of them will be up for more when you’re in private together.
Most bottom guys will ask for money, I don’t know how it starts with these guys but I guess after being exploited they learn to also take advantage. Be nice and gently let them down but please do not offer anyone money.
There are quite a few private gay parties, the scene is quite small and everyone knows everyone so you will need in to attend one. You’re not missing much if you don’t attend one. They are mostly held in Lahore, Karachi and occasionally in Islamabad. Guys in Karachi are more friendly than the one’s in Lahore.
The use of drugs has skyrocketed in gay Pakistan scene. A lot more guys are getting deeper into some serious drugs like Ice, heroine and meth. Be on your guard! If you get caught at one of these parties, you will be in serious trouble.
Gender & Gay Pakistan
If you are cis male or female, you will issue far fewer issues than someone trans. Although social attitudes are changing, it is a deeply heteronormative society.
Race & Gay Pakistan
Most Pakistani guy have never seen any race other than South Asian, if you are white, Latino or middle eastern, you are valued highly. There is a huge anti black bias which is really sad. If you are desi but have come from ‘abroad’ you’re also treated nicer.
Most people in Pakistan are very hospitable. The social circle you roam around in makes a huge difference. This is a very unequal society where the rich have it all and poor get nothing. The same principle applies for gay scene in Pakistan.
Is Pakistan Safe for Gay Travel?
Surprisingly yes! Despite it being illegal, foreigners aren’t really touched when it comes to sexuality. This is different, however, if you try to take part in anything political or be loud sadly. If you visit, meet a guy or two, you will have no issues.
If you are visiting with your partner, you will also have very little issues, actually it is safer to be with same sex partner because it is fairly common for guys to share beds, hold hands. Getting a hotel room with double bed also isn’t an issue, no one really pays any attention. There is no question about PDA though, it is just not a thing here, even for straight people. Walking around holding hands with your wife can be scandalous for a man, so beware.
You have to be careful of a few scams though and always meet guys in public. I have heard of stories where:
1- A guys would come to your hotel, have sex and then refuse to get dressed or leave unless you pay him off.
2- Meet you and pretend to be from police to scare and extort you.
3- Have sex with you and then mug you.
Be cautious and you will have a great time.
The Most Important Tip for Gay Travellers to Pakistan
The best way to enjoy the scene is by making a local friend, they will help navigate you through the scene.
Which Gay Dating Apps Are Most Commonly Used In Pakistan?
It used to be Grindr but Blued has taken over especially after Grindr was banned by the government of Pakistan. A few people also use Grindr, Scruff and Hornet but in dwindling numbers. Scruff works without VPN. Grindr, Blued and Hornet need a VPN to work. I really loved Hotspot Shield.
You must know most of the photos on Grindr and Blued profile are fake or photos of local celebrities with almost none of the guys that look like those photos. You will also hear some sad stories about visa and marriage proposals, it is the sad reality where everyone is trying to escape a horrible situation.
I know it is easy to feel sorry but I’d suggest ignoring these type of requests and where possible supporting locals by suggestion alternatives (Suggested being a walking tour guide to a couple of guys which has good potential in Lahore or Karachi especially, I hope they take it).
Some Grindr/Blued Lingo:
Rn = Right Now
Wp = with place/can host
Dp = display picture
ASL = age, sex, location
HF – High Fun (drugged up sex)
FnF – Friends and Fun
I really hope this article helps you in understanding what to expect when heading to Pakistan as gay travellers. If you have any further questions, feel free to ask.