Pakistan said gay rights were a sensitive issue that could “directly clash” with the cultural and religious ethos of the people. Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit said Pakistan and several other countries did not support the inclusion of a reference to gay rights in the communique issued at the recent Perth Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting.
Noting that gay rights had come up at different international forums, Basit said: “We are of the view that these are sensitive issues and sometimes they directly clash with peoples” and countries” cultural and religious ethos.”
He was responding to a question on whether the Pakistani envoy had endorsed a speech by US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton at a recent meeting of the UN Human Rights Council. Clinton had reportedly said during her speech that gay rights are human rights and that future US aid would be linked with this issue.
Basit noted that Islamabad’s opposition to the inclusion of gay rights in Commonwealth communique gave an idea of what would be Pakistan’s likely position on the issue. He said he did not know if Pakistan’s ambassador had attended the meeting addressed by Clinton “but in any case there is no point in leaving the room even if you have disagreements on certain issues”.
Basit added: “You should present your viewpoint. Pakistan has always tried to develop consensus on controversial issues. We would like to discuss and place our position on the table rather than boycotting discussions.”