ISLAMABAD (The Blaze/AP) — A group of conservative Islamic political and religious officials has condemned a meeting by the U.S. Embassy supporting gay rights in Pakistan as "cultural terrorism" against the country.
The group, which included the head of Pakistan's largest Islamic party, Jamaat-e-Islami, claimed the meeting — the first of its kind held by the embassy — was the second most dangerous attack by the U.S. against Pakistan, following missiles fired from unmanned drones.
The meeting on June 26 was hosted by the U.S. deputy ambassador, Richard Hoagland, and was meant to support the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals in Pakistan, said the embassy.
"Such people are the curse of society and social garbage," said the statement issued by the Islamic officials on Sunday. "They don't deserve to be Muslim or Pakistani, and the support and protection announced by the U.S. administration for them is the worst social and cultural terrorism against Pakistan."
Earlier today, AFP reports that there were rallies and protests that were held to denounce the U.S.-led meeting:
Islamists held rallies in major Pakistani cities Monday to denounce a gay rights event hosted last month by the United States embassy, calling for a "holy war" against ally Washington.
Around 100 demonstrators in the southern port city of Karachi protested, calling the meeting "an assault on Pakistan's Islamic culture", while there were similar demonstrations in the capital Islamabad and in Lahore...
In the eastern city of Lahore, some 150 students from IJT and about two dozen activists of pro-Taliban Jamiat Ulema-e-Islam also held anti-US rallies, police and witnesses said.
Homosexual acts are illegal in Pakistan. Homosexuality is not explicitly mentioned in Pakistan's penal code, but "carnal intercourse against the order of nature" is punishable by a fine and/or imprisonment for a period of two years to life, according to the United Nations.
Also, under Islamic, or Sharia, laws in Pakistan, homosexual acts are punishable by whipping, imprisonment or death, according to the U.N.
Hoagland, the deputy ambassador, said during the meeting that the U.S. would support LGBT rights in Pakistan.
"I want to be clear: the U.S. Embassy is here to support you and stand by your side every step of the way," said Hoagland in a statement released by the embassy.
Over 75 people attended the meeting, which was co-hosted by the Gays and Lesbians in Foreign Affairs Agencies, the embassy said. The crowd included U.S. Embassy officials, military representatives, foreign diplomats and leaders of Pakistani LGBT advocacy groups.
The Islamic officials demanded the Pakistani government arrest the participants under the country's laws and said the meeting was "tantamount to stabbing the Muslim world in the chest."