Woman says she was kicked out of her job and her university for being gay in Pakistan


A 40-year-old lesbian woman who fled Pakistan for the U.K. seven years ago has shared a horrific account of what it was like to be openly gay in the fiercely conservative and Muslim country. Using the name Zayna, the woman told The Manchester Evening News that she had known she was gay since she was 13 but that her parents were never able to accept it.

As a teenager, she recalled her father brutally beating her for spending time with another girl as a teenager — not because she was a lesbian, but because her father had assumed the two had been meeting with men.

“This was the first time I felt unsafe in my own home,” she recalled.

Later in life, she was studying as a Ph.D. chemistry student and working at an Islamic school when her relationship with another teacher was discovered. At work, she was told to leave or be reported to police for prostitution. At her university, she said, she was forced to leave after being deemed “dangerous to other girls.”

Sick of being demonized by society, and even her own family, she took on three jobs and saved money to travel to England, where she now has a senior position at a management company — and also works with Finding a Voice, an LGBT group, where she counsels other LGBT Muslims. Another goal of hers, she said, was to encourage more conservative Muslims to let go of what she described as misinterpretation of the Qur’an’s teachings on homosexuality.

“It’s very hard if you are from the LGBT community and Muslim. Muslim scholars have said to me ‘you are not Muslim if you are lesbian,’” said Zayna, adding that her self-identification as a Muslim was as important to her as her sexuality.

“I now have peace of mind that no one is going to kill me,” she said. “I can’t tell you those feelings in words.”

Speaking with The Manchester Evening News, Zayna talked about the difficulties of trying to convince conservative Muslims that homosexuality wasn’t inherently evil, and how she’d adjusted to the U.K.’s markedly more open gay scene.

Read the full story at The Manchester Evening News.


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