False claims that Pakistan will introduce same-sex marriage law go viral

Most posts on social media originating from hardline religious groups

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Claim: A law to legalise same-sex marriage is set to be passed in Pakistan under the guise of a transgender act as part of efforts by non-governmental organisations (NGOs), which obtain funds from gay and lesbian communities abroad. The claim further adds that “educated khawajasira” do not support the proposed law and that they acknowledge it is part of a covert plan to legalise homosexuality in Pakistan and “ruin the Muslim society”.

Fact: No such law has been proposed nor set to be proposed in Pakistan. In 2021, an amendment to the existing Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2018 — a law that offers protections and rights to the transgender community — was introduced in the Senate, but it is yet to be debated.

On 7 September 2022, a post appeared in a public Facebook group called ‘mufti saeed arshad al hussini’ by user Haya Noor claiming that Pakistan will pass a law to legalise same-sex marriage under the pretense of a transgender act. It asserts that this is a plan by foreign-funded NGOs. The post goes on argue that the proposed law does not have the support of “educated khawajasira,” who have acknowledged this covert plan to legalise homosexuality in Pakistan and “ruin the Muslim society”.

Fact or Fiction?

Soch Fact Check browsed the proposed bills available on the website of the Senate of Pakistan and found no such draft legislation in the federal, provincial or Islamabad Capital Territory jurisdiction either under the Government Bill or the Private Member Bill category.

We did, however, find a bill “further to amend the Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2018”, which was submitted by Senator Mushtaq Ahmad Khan of the Jamaat-e-Islami Pakistan (JIP).

The draft legislation’s notice was received on 7 October 2021, per Senate records, and introduced and referred to the relevant committee on 15 November 2021. The bill proposes to change the definition of a “transgender person” retrogradely, mandates invasive medical tests involving genitalia, removes the methodology to calculate the share of inheritance for trans individuals, and does away with any possible gender affirmation surgery.

In 2018, Pakistan had passed the landmark Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2018.

Virality

Soch Fact Check conducted a CrowdTangle analysis for the 30-day period from 23 August 2022 to 22 September using the following search terms:

  • “#AmendTransgenderAct”
  • “#ٹرانسجینڈرز”
  • “#ٹرانسجینڈرز_ایکٹ”
  • “اسلام آباد ٹرانس جینڈر ہم جنس پرستی”
  • “ٹرانسجینڈ_ایکٹ”
  • “افسوس آج پوری عوام بے خبر سو رہی ہے۔ اور اسلام آباد میں ٹرانس جینڈر ایکٹ کے بہانے ہم جنس پرستی ( یعنی مرد مرد اور عورت عورت سے سیکس کر سکیں گے ) لانے کے لیے قانون پاس ہو رہا ہے”
  • “#LGBTQNaManzoor”

The first and second search terms turned up a whopping 80,948 and 19,083 interactions across 519 and 89 posts on Facebook, respectively.

The third, fourth, and fifth search terms yielded 97 Facebook posts with 3,646 interactions, 30 Facebook posts with 1,349 interactions, and 25 Facebook posts with 1,051 interactions, respectively.

The sixth and seventh search terms showed 826 interactions across 16 posts and 222 interactions across four posts on Facebook, respectively.

On Instagram, we found this post that gained more than 3,700 likes and close to 250 comments.

Conclusion: The claims of a law to legalise same-sex marriage are false as neither has such a law been proposed nor is one set to be proposed. In 2021, an amendment to the existing Transgender Persons (Protection of Rights) Act, 2018, was introduced in the Senate, but it is yet to be debated.

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