A group of conservative Pakistani religious and political leaders has spoken out against a gay rights event held last month at the U.S. Embassy in the capital city, Islamabad, issuing a statement calling LGBT people “social garbage.”
Meanwhile, protesters staged antigay marches Monday in Islamabad and two other major Pakistani cities, Karachi and Lahore. “This meeting shows cruel America has unleashed a storm of immoral values on our great Islamic values, which we’ll resist at all costs,” said Mohammad Hussain Mehnati, one of the leaders of Pakistan’s primary Islamic party, Jamaat-e-Islami, at one of the events, according to Agence France-Presse.
The right-wing group put out the statement Sunday, reports the Associated Press, which also notes that it called the meeting one of the most dangerous U.S. attacks on Pakistan — second only to missiles shot from unmanned drones.
The meeting, held June 26, was hosted by U.S. deputy ambassador Richard Hoagland and cohosted by a gay employee group, Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies. It was the first of its kind held by the embassy and was designed to promote the rights of LGBT people in Pakistan. Leaders of Pakistani gay groups attended, along with embassy officials, military representatives, and foreign diplomats. Hoagland assured the gathering that the U.S. and its embassy staff would support gay rights.
The conservative group responded with its statement saying LGBT people “are the curse of society and social garbage. They don’t deserve to be Muslim or Pakistani, and the support and protection announced by the U.S. administration for them is the worst social and cultural terrorism against Pakistan.” The group called for the arrest of participants in the meeting, saying the event was “tantamount to stabbing the Muslim world in the chest.”