Out South: Queer Asia Rising

The BBC is reporting that a gay couple in Pakistan took part in what is considered the country's first gay marriage. Witnesses said a 42-year-old Afghan refugee held a marriage ceremony with a local tribesman of 16 in the remote Khyber region bordering Afghanistan.

When news broke that the wedding occurred a tribal council ordered the couple to leave the area or be subject to execution. Gay marriage is illegal in conservative Muslim Pakistan. A gay couple caught having sex were lashed publicly in the Khyber region in May.

Despite the fact that homosexuality is still taboo, it is quite common in Pakistan. There is an increasing number of gay couples living together in Karachi and Islamabad.

According to a local Urdu-language newspapers, "the marriage was held amid usual pomp and show associated with a tribal wedding."

Malik Waris Khan, a prominent local politician and former federal minister, confirmed to AFP that the marriage had taken place.

"I checked the report with people in Tirah Valley and they confirmed it," he said.

Meanwhile pop star Elton John has donated more than $40,000 (£25,000) to the leading gay rights group in Nepal to help the fight against HIV/Aids.

Sunil Babu Panta, the group's head, said the money would help fund clinics for HIV positive gay men and women.

The World Health Organisation estimated in 2002 that more than 60,000 people were infected with HIV in Nepal.

Homosexuality is legal in Nepal, but gays and lesbians often face discrimination, he said.


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