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Man is detained for trying to open gay club in Osama Bin Laden’s compound town in Pakistan

ABBOTTABAD PAKISTAN city newspaper stand showing Osama Bin Laden daily life May 2011 summer celebration mountain river town nearby Nathia Gali 2023
thomas koch/Shutterstock; Iqbal Hafeez/Shutterstock

Preetum Giani has reportedly been held in a Pakistani mental health facility since he disappeared last month.

A 75-year-old man who tried to open a gay bar in a conservative Pakistani city has been detained in a mental health hospital since last month by local authorities, the Telegraphreported.

Earlier this year, Preetum Giani applied to open the Lorenzo Gay Club in Abbottabad in northern Pakistan, local 24 News HDreported last month. The city is best known as the location of the compound where terrorist Osama Bin Laden spent his final days before he was killed by U.S. forces in 2016.

“The envisaged gay club, tentatively to be called Lorenzo Gay Club, would basically be just a venue where gay people could freely meet, converse with, and share light refreshments with other gay people,” the application read in part.

The application stressed the Lorenzo Gay Club would permit no form of gay or straight sex, but would tolerate kissing. Instead, Giani envisioned a safe space for the LGBTQ+ community to exercise the “basic human right of free association, enshrined in the country’s constitution” in the application.

Giani also promised to display a “clearly visible notice” on the wall warning patrons “NO SEX ON PREMISES.”

The application generated a backlash on social media and amongst local residents. The request was quickly rejected by the local Deputy Commissioner Abbas Afridi who characterized the application as impractical on religious, constitutional, and legal grounds to 24 News HD.

Naseer Khan Nazir of the Right-wing Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PATY), promised “very severe consequences” if the application was passed, the Telegraph reported. Another politician reportedly promised to pour gas on the bar and set it ablaze if it opened.

When reporters from the Telegraph attempted to visit Giani in his home on May 9, they learned he had been sent to the Sarhad Hospital for Psychiatric Disease in Peshawar.

His friends said authorities have rebuffed their attempts to learn of Giani’s current condition. They also said they are fearful for his safety as well as their own.

“Everyone is afraid that talking about it will put them in danger,” one unidentified friend revealed.

Same-sex sexual relations are illegal in Pakistan and punishable by up to two years in prison. Marriage equality is also not recognized in the deeply conservative country that recognizes a strict view of Islam.

In 2020, the government announced a crackdown on apps like Grindr, Tinder, Tagged, Skout, and SayHi for violating the country’s moral code.

Despite the conservative hostility to the LGBTQ+ community in the region, the Transgender Persons Act was expanded in 2018 to recognize an individual’s right to self-identify as male, female, or genderqueer, and to have their true gender reflected on all documents, including passports, drivers’ licenses, and educational certificates. Also that year, 13 transgender candidates filed to run for public office
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