Ambassador Hoagland greets guests at the Pride celebration

Pakistani Muslim groups have slammed a LGBT celebration hosted at the US Embassy in Islamabad, described as the city’s first-ever Pride event.

US Ambassador Richard Hoagland and members of Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies (GLIFFA) held the event in the capital on 26 June.

According to a statement by the embassy, the gathering “demonstrated continued US Embassy support for human rights, including LGBT rights, in Pakistan at a time when those rights are increasingly under attack from extremist elements throughout Pakistani society”.

A group of religious leaders, including the head of the country’s largest Islamic party, Jamaat-e-Islami, reacted to the event by saying: “[gay] 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 US administration for them is the worst social and cultural terrorism against Pakistan.”

“The US Embassy is here to support you…”

Over 75 people attended the event, including mission officers, US military representatives, foreign diplomats, and leaders of Pakistani LGBT advocacy groups.

In formal remarks, Hoagland underscored President Obama’s recent LGBT Pride Proclamation that, “we rededicate ourselves to the pursuit of equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity”.

Addressing the Pakistani LGBT activists, Hoagland acknowledged that the struggle for LGBT rights in Pakistan is still beginning, and said “I want to be clear: the US Embassy is here to support you and stand by your side every step of the way”.

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