At a glance

  • Same-sex relations: illegal
  • Legal gender recognition: possible
  • Registration of LGBTIQ organizations: not possible
  • Actions related to SOGI at UN: opposed IE SOGI in 2016



Laws against “obscene acts” and “unnatural offences” contribute to widespread antipathy towards LGB people in Pakistan. Transgender people, locally known as Khawaja Sara, are seen in a more complex way – both as bearers of good fortune, and as outcasts. Consequently their human rights are protected to a much greater degree than people with same sex attractions. The Transgender Person (Protection of Rights) Act of 2018 allows anyone whose gender does not conform to the sex assigned at birth to change their legal gender on official documents, hold public office, and vote. The act further protects such people from discrimination in housing, employment, and education. Social exclusion, harassment and stigmatization of Khawaja Saras, transgender, intersex, and gender non-conforming Pakistanis continues to be an issue despite these legal protections.

In contrast, same-sex relations are still banned under the country’s penal code. In areas of Sharia law the death penalty can be imposed, and societal opinion in relation to LGB people is pervasively negative. Pakistan remains a conservative country, which values traditional family structures and conservative religious ideals. Politicians and influential religious leaders frequently publicly denounce, especially LGB but LGBTIQ people more broadly, as “un-Islamic” and “immoral.” Public officials have used The Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, passed in 2016, to censor websites addressing LGBTIQ issues and depicting LGBTIQ people. Pakistani media asserts inaccurate and anti-LGBTIQ ideas, perpetuating negative societal perceptions.