Get a Search Engine For Your Web Site

Search This Site Via Google:

This free script provided by JavaScript Kit

Web-Link GLBT Education
Male Homosexuality / 
In India / South Asia
Part 1 (Part 2) (Part 3)


Masculinity for Boys: Resource Guide for Peer Educators (UNESCO, New Delhi, 2006, PDF, PDF):
Men have always secretly known and understood the universal male need for intimacy with men, but have also known that the
society strongly discourages open acknowledgement of such desire.
.. What would surprise many is that before the British arrived in
India, the Indian society had many socially approved spaces in the mainstream male society, where male-male intimacy flourished
openly. Most such spaces and customs were destroyed by the long British rule, but some survived till a century ago...
We have seen how the heterosexualisation of Indian society is changing this traditional masculinity pattern. Heterosexualisation
also includes the homosexualisation of male-male love. It is one of the most basic forms of male oppression.

Khan, Shivananda (2001). Culture, sexualities, and identities: men who have sex with men in India. Journal of Homosexuality, 40(3/4), 99-115 (Full Text). (Related Papers: Socio-cultural constructions of male sexual behaviours in South Asia: N/A) - and - Cultural constructions of male sexualities in India: (The document is now a part of "Perspectives On Males Who Have Sex With Males In India And Bangladesh". PDF Download: If the link is not working, access via Naz Foundation International Home Page.

Excerpt: Global Gayz: .


This essay focuses on men who have sex with men, and gay men. This is because most of the research and analysis conducted so far by the Naz Foundation has been on the male to male sexual behaviors as a significant factor in STD/HIV transmission in India. This is a different matter than the construction of men's sexualities. P. 100 …

Prem is 26, married, and has a young son… He does not call himself homosexual; the word gay he doesn't understand, not having access to English. Nor does he see anything wrong with what he does. He is just "messing about." …He remembers his first sexual experience with his uncle back in his home village. He was 12. P. 100-1 …

Mohammed, 42… So when I am hot and don’t have enough money, then I know several men who I can have maasti with. A lot of my friends do this. P. 101 [Note 7: Maasti is a Hindi term which means mischief and often has sexual overtones when it is used between young men. P. 112] …

They don’t consider themselves as different. They know many men who enjoy sex with other men. They don't play husband and wife roles, thinking it rather silly as both are men. Neither read or speak English. P. 102 …

Who is gay in an Indian context? What is gay? Who is homosexual? About three-quarters (72%) of truck drivers in North Pakistan who participated in a recent survey published in AIDS Analysis Asia admitted that they has sex with other males, while 76% stated that they had sex with female sex workers. Are these 72% gay? Homosexual? There is sufficient anecdotal evidence to indicate that in the other countries of the sub-continent, similar levels of male to male sexual behaviors exist as part of a broader sexual repertoire. Are these males bisexual? P. 102-3 …

In working with sexual health issues in India and in listening to the rhetoric of UNAIDS representatives, international donor agencies, the Indian medical profession, and many Western and Indian gay men, an assumption is often made that same-gender sexual behaviors must mean the person is a homosexual, or gay, while male to female sexual behavior must mean that the person is heterosexual. In these discourses, procreative "heterosexuality" is seen as 'normal." While other behaviors are seen as perverse or foreign. However, these constructs seem to have little contemporary or historical validity in India (and even to some extent in the West). This reductionist ideology is a recent invention from the 19th century, which has consequently acted to reduce the rich diversity of alternate sexualities (Foucault, 1978; Weeks, 1986; Katz, 1995, Herdt, 1994). Closer analysis of these debates seems to me to indicate a confusion among the terms sexual behavior, gender, identity formation, and cross-cultural validity, and within such confusion there may well be elements of neo-colonialism, racism, and Western imperialism (Khan, 1994c; Hyam, 1990). P. 103 …

I was interested to hear Dede Oetomo, a gay activist in Indonesia, say at the Vancouver International AIDS Conference in July 1996 that perhaps "importing" Western constructions of gay identities into Indonesia was creating a social tension whereby local homoaffectionalist and homosocial structures were being destroyed for the fear of being labeled "gay." The debate on sexualities may even at times be perceived as a form of neo-colonialism whereby Western sexual ideologies have "invaded" Indian discourses on sexuality and identity by professionals, laypersons, "straights" or "gays," and whereby indigenous histories and cultures become invisible. P. 105 …

Much same-sex sexual behavior involves non-penetrative varieties, mutually indulged in frameworks of friendships and sexual play, while in other situations urgent sexual discharge and sexual "need" is the significant factor. P. 106 …

However, the denial of variation in history in many Western and Indian discourses had given rise to a prevailing construction of sexuality, where a "procreative and penetrative" sexual ideology is the only "sexuality" that is seen as relevant. Perversely, any other form is categorized as deviant and Western. P. 109 …

Opportunities like this are frequent and mean that significant amounts of male-male sexual behavior occur within family environments and networks, between male relatives and friends. But this is not seen as real sex! This is maasti, invisible and denied. P. 110 …

[The following comment made to me by a man in New Delhi captures the context of much sexual expression in India:] Privacy? What privacy? I share a room with three older brothers, and I have sex with all of them. P. 110


Foucault M (1978). History of sexuality volume 1. London: Allen Lane.

Herdt G (1994). Third Sex Third Gender: beyond sexual dimorphism in culture and history. New York: Zone Books.

Hyam R (1990). Empire and sexuality - the British experience. Manchester, England: Manchester University Press

Katz J (1995). The invention of homosexuality. New York: Dutton.

Khan S (1994c). Contexts-race, culture and sexuality. India: A NAZ Report.

Khan S (1996). Under the Blanket. In P Aggleton, Ed. Bisexualties and AIDS, 161-77. London: Taylor and Francis. (Abstract & Contents)

Weeks G (1986). Sexuality. London: Routledge.

Asthana S, and Oostvogels R (2001). The social construction of male 'homosexuality' in India: implications for HIV transmission and prevention. Social Science & Medicine, 52: 707-21. (Related Article: What it means to be gay - homosexuality and HIV in India.)


[Noted is that the western discourse on sexuality to be based on the] "heterosexual/homosexual dichotomy," [and that such perceptions do not necessarily apply in other cultures]. P. 707

However, in many cultures, homosexuality is not recognized as a socially significant category and although male homosexual behavior is prevalent, it is not associated with a specific 'gay identity'. P. 707

[Although the concept of MSM (men having sex with men) has been used in the WEST], "In practice, however, MSM is often use interchangeably with that of 'gay men'." P. 707

Thus, whilst there was more social acceptance of alternative sexual natures in the 1970s and more space emerged for sexual minorities to live their lives without repression, gay men also became more sexually isolated. Due to the tendency to to associate male homosexuality with effeminacy, men who wished to preserve their masculine heterosexual self-image withdrew from homosexual circuits. Thus there was a decline in the proportion of men who had sex with men who were also involved in heterosexual relationships. The fact that the affirmation of one's homosexuality became the basis of positive social identification also contributed to the view that bisexuality was an illegitimate socio-sexual identity. P. 708

The rejection of the effeminate stereotype was also part of the gay political agenda…. P. 709

From the beginning, AIDS was associated with sexual deviance, heterosexuals who contracted HIV/AIDS being treated either as 'innocent victims' or as nominal queers (citing Goldin, 1994; Patton, 1994) p. 709

…the Indian system differs from the Latin American form of patriarchy which, in addition to defining a passive, self sacrificing and dutiful role for women, represses femininity in men and promotes aggressive manliness (Almaguer, 1993; Lancaster, 1995). P. 711

First, the status of women in marriage and the norms and traditions controlling their behavior so clearly establish male superiority that Indian men do not have to strongly assert their masculine characteristics in order to be thought of as 'male'. Second, the social position of men in influenced by their caste position. These factors may in part explain why there is no need for a system such as Latin American Machismo to provide a means of structuring power relations between men. P. 711

,,,providing that a man does not adopt an alternative gender identity, he may engage in 'homosexual' activity without compromising his masculinity. P. 712

…the taboo on pre- or extra-marital sex for women is more strictly enforced than the taboo on homosexuality. P. 112

However, due to the social distances between the sexes, men who also seek sexual fulfillment in relations with other men. Indian culture is highly homosocial and displays of affection, body contact and the sharing of beds between men is socially acceptable (Kahn, 1994) This creates opportunities for sexual contact, though sexual behavior in this context is rarely seen as real sex, but as play. Much of this same-sex sexual activity begins in adolescence between school friends and within family environments and is non-penetrative. Young men who cultivate such relationships do not consider themselves to be 'homosexual' but conceive their behavior in terms of sexual desire, opportunity and pleasure… Given the constant expectation that a man will eventually marry and produce sons, he can enter in same-sex sexual relations without challenging his masculine sense of self… Even effeminate men who have a strong desire for receiving penetrative sex are likely to consider their role as husbands and especially fathers to be more important than their self-identification than their homosexual behavior. Thus, to be receptive in homosexual encounters does not necessarily denote loss of manhood. Nor does it imply passivity and a subordinate class. This aspect of male-male sexual relations in India differs markedly from other contexts such as Latin America (Parker, 1991; Almaguer, 1993). And the Middle East (Tapinc, 1992) where active / passive and dominant / subordinate meaning are associated with sex role. Instead, emphasis is placed on giving and receiving pleasure. This allows for a greater equality of status between partners. P. 712

The principal method in the research was therefore participant observations, first covert then revealed. A team of three researchers was formed, all of whom had a background in social science. P. 713 [The various categories of men who engage in same-sex sexual activities in so-called "sexual circuits" in Madras are given. P. 713-8]

…As with Indian men and women, a social distance exists between masculine- and feminine-identified MSM and it is difficult to envisage a fundamental change in these arrangements - e.g. the development of more reciprocal social and sexual relations. It is therefore highly unlikely that a collective 'gay' consciousness and solidarity can be achieved in the Indian context. Indeed, care should be taken in assuming that an incipient 'gay movement' already exists in the country (Drucker, 1996). P. 718

[Of all the categories of MSM}… Double deckers also represent the only category of MSM in Madras for whom North American/West European model of gay activism may have some meaning. P. 719


There is thus a pressing need for more research on the ways in which the sexuality and sexual conduct of MSM vary cross-culturally. For some 20 years, social construction theory has set an example of how such research could proceed (Vance, 1991). For most part, however, this perspective has been elaborated in debates on gay and lesbian politics or in historical studies of sexuality and relatively little work exists which applies constructionist approaches to the study of HIV/AIDS. We hope that this paper has demonstrated that, if appropriate and effective HIV interventions are to be developed, more attention should be paid to the socio-cultural context and organization of sexuality and sexual activity. P. 719

Among the educated middle classes, there is a small, but growing, movement of people whose sense of personal identity is separate from that of their family, kin group, and community and who are beginning to create new forms of sexual identity. Many of these may well call themselves lesbians, gay men, homosexuals, bisexuals, and even heterosexuals. In the main, these evolving and emerging identities are arising with the growth of urban, industrialized, and commercial cultures, concomitant with which is a rising sense of individuality, personal privacy, and private space. This cultural change appears to be associated with the development of nuclear family lifestyles, the expansion of education, and the power of the English-speaking middle-classes to access Western literature and to make more choices about their lives. It is mostly people from these backgrounds who meet, socialize, discuss and debate (usually in English) issues of sexual identities and "coming out." Gay activism in India is growing and has begin to challenge laws which criminalize homosexuality and which were inherited from the British Raj. It remains to be seen whether these emerging identities will reflect (or perhasps imitate) Western constructions and whether those who adopt these identities will attempt to live these out within Indian cultures, or whether differing identities will be constructed. P. 111


Almager T (1993). Chicano men: a cartography of homosexual identity and behavior. In H. Abelove, M. Barale, and D. Halperin, Eds. The lesbian and gay studies reader, 255-73. London: Routledge.

Goldin C (1994). Stigmatization and AIDS: critical issues in public health. Social Science & Medicine, 39(9): 1359-66.

Kahn S (1994). Cultutral contexts of sexual behaviors and identities and their impact on HIV prevention models: an overview of South Asian men who have sex with men. Indian Journal of Social Work, LV(4): 633-46.

Lancaster RN (1995). 'That we should all turn queer?' Homosexual stigma in the making of manhood and the breaking revolution in Nicaragua. In RG Parker, and JH Gagnon, Eds. Conceiving sexuality: approaches to sex research in a postmodern world, 135-156. London: Routledge.

Parker RG (1991). Bodies, pleasures and passions. Sexual culture in contemporary Brazil. Boston: Beacon Press.

Patton C (1994). Last served? Gendering the HIV pandemic. London: Taylor & Francis.

Tapinc H (19992). Masculinity, femininity and Turkish male homosexuality. In K. Plummer, Ed. Modern homosexualities: fragments of lesbian and gay experience, 39-49. London: Routledge.

Vance CS (1991). Anthropology rediscovers sexuality: a theoretical comment. Social Science & Medicine, 33(8): 875-84.

Rivers K, and Aggleton P (1999). Adolescent Sexuality, Gender and the HIV Epidemic. Thomas Coram Research Unit, Institute of Education, University of London. Internet:

"While male-to-male sex exists in every culture, the activities concerned are rarely understood as "homosexual" still less as "gay" (McKenna, 1996). More likely than not, they will not be widely talked about, or named only within local vernaculars often inaccessible to outsiders (Aggleton, Khan and Parker, 1998). That said, in many countries of the world a not insubstantial number of young men have their first sexual experience with other men, and for some this may be the beginning of a longer lasting bisexual behavioural repertoire. For example, 50 per cent of male university students recently interviewed in Sri Lanka reported that their first sexual experience had been with another man (Silva et al, 1997), and there are well documented studies of behavioural bisexuality among men in countries as diverse as the Philippines (Tan, 1996), India (Khan, 1996), Morocco (Bourshaba et al, 1998), Brazil (Parker, 1996), the Dominican Republic (de Moya and Garcia, 1996) and Peru (Cáceres, 1998). While it would be quite wrong to see male bisexuality as a purely "adolescent" phenomenon or triggered by men's lack of access to women, the restrictions many cultures place on socialisation between the sexes may have an important role to play in facilitating this alternative means of sexual expression."

Rivers K, and Aggleton P (1999). La sexualité chez les adolescents, la problématique homme-femme et l'épidémie du VIH. Groupe de recherche Thomas Coram, Institut de pédagogie, Université de Londres. Internet:

"Alors que toutes les cultures connaissent les rapports sexuels entre hommes, ces activités sont rarement décrites comme homosexuelles, et encore moins ''gay'' (McKenna, 1996). La plupart du temps on n'en parle pas, ou alors dans un vernaculaire inaccessible aux étrangers (Aggleton, Khan et Parker, 1998). Ceci dit, dans de nombreux pays un nombre considérable de jeunes gens ont leur première expérience sexuelle avec d'autres hommes, pour certains cela marque le début d'un long comportement bisexuel. Par exemple, 50 % des étudiants au Sri Lanka rapportent avoir eu leur première expérience sexuelle avec un autre homme (Silva et divers collaborateurs., 1997), et il existe des études sur les comportements bisexuels entre hommes dans des pays aussi divers que les Philippines (Tan, 1996), l'Inde (Khan, 1996), le Maroc (Bourshaba et divers collaborateurs., 1998), le Brésil (Parker, 1996), la République dominicaine (de Moya et Garcia, 1996) et le Pérou (Caceres, 1998). Alors qu'il serait erroné de considérer la bisexualité masculine comme un phénomène purement adolescent ou déclenché par le manque d'accès des hommes aux femmes, les restrictions que de nombreuses cultures placent sur les rapports sociaux entre les sexes faciliteraient en grande partie cette autre forme d'expression sexuelle."


Silva, K.T., Schensul, S.L., Schensul, J.J., Nastasi, B., Amarasiri de Silva, M.W., Sivayoganathan, C., Ratnayake, P., Wedsinghe, P., Lewis, J., Eisenberg, M., & Aponso, H. (1997). Youth and Sexual Risk  in Sri Lanka. Women and AIDS Research Program. Washington DC: International Center for Research on Women.

Love in a Different Climate: Men Who Have Sex with Men in India by Jeremy Seabrook. London: Verso, l999 - Book Review: Journal of the History of Sexuality, 2001 - 10.1,  143-146.

Excerpts from the Review: "It is by now well known that Western understandings of sexuality, sexual identity, and particularly "homosexuality" have been inappropriately imposed on other cultures... Contrary to the book's title, love does not enter into most MSMs' relationships. Indeed, the great majority of Seabrook's respondents vehemently deny that their sexual practices with other men are even sex, let alone love. In their cultural classification system, sex is only with women. Many MSMs refer to same-sex sexual activity as "play" and dismiss it as not serious, a time filler, a temporary adventure in the big city, an aspect of male friendship, or as a way of making money... (p. 143)

BANGLADESH - Special Research Report on Homosexual/Bisexual Males in Bangladesh (Unofficial). - Sexual Behaviour of Adolescents (Home Page) (PDF Download) "In each of the study areas, there was at least one adolescent boy participant who knew about an adult male who was having sex with adolescent boys, and adolescent boys who were having sex with boys of similar age. This activity was termed as ‘jeena.’ Sometimes the men who were doing so provided incentives to their young partners. Some of the men were said to have forced young boys to have anal sex." - Risky Sexual Behaviour in a Conservative Society: (PDF Download) "The study was conducted in a rural area, north-east of Dhaka, during January 1995-September 1996...  Homosexuality is prevalent in the area. It is not considered a risky behaviour as it does not lead to pregnancy...."

AIDS/HIV situation in Bangladesh: A Looming Threat: "Looks unfamiliar but in reality, homosexual activities are widespread in our conservative society... Demonstration of homosexual tendencies for short periods is quite common in our society. Those practicing are not ostracized, although if caught, are ridiculed. Like in other societies gay relation flourish in dormitories, barracks, labor colonies, prisons (very common) and hostels, and authorities are hard pressed to keep them secret. Male prostitutes are available in most towns. In rural areas, homosexuality is generally considered something that young people do for fun and some elders may do in secret..."

The Condom Situation Assessment in 11 Asian and Western Pacific Countries (WHO Document, 2001: PDF Download): Country repoirt - Bangladesh: "The national AIDS programme has recognized the existence of a widely occurring form of high-risk male-to-male sexual practices in the country. 8 Prior to opposite sex activities, young males (as early as 8-9; though more commonly between 13-15) are initiated into male-to-male sexual activities by older youths. Sex with boys is reportedly seen as a safe substitute for sex with dangerous female sex workers and it is also observed that "most men" claim they do not use condoms when engaged in this activity. The generally secret nature of this high-risk activity, and the age of the involved youths have been seen as major challenge for public health programmes..."

Lower Than the Untouchables, 'Hijras' Begin to Change Some Popular Prejudices. -  Revealing an Underworld Network: Male prostitution in Ramna. - Sexual health workshops in Bangladesh and India for males who have sex with males. - Different Views and Experiences on Covering Homosexuality: Bangladesh.

The Shadow Citizens: There are gays in every society, including Bengali society, and there is no sense in suppressing and stifling homosexuality. In: Himal: The South Asian Magazine. - Dhaka Forced To Face Sex Taboos: Homosexuality, in theory, does not even exist. But in reality, its practice is creating a dilemma for Bangladeshi authorities, social workers and medical professionals.

Papers related to homosexuality in Bangladesh N/A - Home Page - 20. Varieties of homosexuality in Bangladesh: implications for HIV prevention. Authors: Jenkins C; Author Affiliation: Int'l. Cent. Diar. Dis. Res. B., Dhaka, Bangladesh. Source: Int Conf AIDS. 1998;12:244-5.  21. Risky sexual amongst MSM in public sex environment in Dhaka of Bangladesh. Authors: Islam A. Author Affiliation: Bandhu Social Welfare Society, Kakrail, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Source: Int Conf AIDS. 1998;12:370.  22. Risky sexual practices amongst MSM in public sex environment in Dhaka of Bangladesh. Authors: Ahmed S; Anisul MA; Sohel SR; Khan S. Author Affiliation: Bandhu Social Welfare Society, Dhaka, Bangladesh. Source: Int Conf AIDS. 1998;12:370.

PAKISTAN - To Be Gay and Muslim by Heidi Dietrich (April 2002): "He spent his early years in Pakistan, where his only introduction to gays was the hijras: hermaphrodites who dress in women's clothing and perform at weddings... Beyond the hijras, gay relationships are kept in the closet in Pakistan... Durrani grew up in Pakistan and came to the United States at age 22. He says that in Pakistan, sex among men is common, but they don't label themselves as gay. As long as the men marry and have children - fulfilling their duties -- they can sleep around on the side Ghalib Dhalla explained that it depends on who is administering the sexual act. "If I get blown, I'm not gay," Dhalla said." - Pakistan: Update to PAK34082.E of 4 April 2000 on the situation of gays and lesbians; existence of advocacy groups; whether legal penalties are enforced in practice.

AFGHANISTAN: - Reid, Tim (2002). Kandahar comes out of the closet N/A. The Times (London). January 12 (Alternate Links: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5): “'In the days of the Mujahidin, there were men with their ashna everywhere, at every corner, in shops, on the streets, in hotels: it was completely open, a part of life,' said Torjan, 38, one of the soldiers loyal to Kandahar’s new governor, Gul Agha Sherzai… 'They are just emerging again,' Torjan said. 'The fighters too now have the boys in their barracks. This was brought to the attention of Gul Agha, who ordered the boys to be expelled, but it continues. The boys live with the fighters very openly. In a short time, and certainly within a year, it will be like pre-Taleban: they will be everywhere.'"

Articles in Pukaar (Excerpts given), the Newsletter/Journal of NAZ Foundation International: Pukaar Index.

Men and HIV: sociocultural constructions of male sexual behaviours in South Asia N/A (Now as PDF Download: by Shivananda Khan (Pukaar 28, January 2000, pp. 13, 22). Presented at the 5th International Congrex on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 23rd- 27th October, 1999. If the link is not working, access via Naz Foundation International Home Page.

"In a number of private conversations with th married male participants in a sexual health education workshop in Orissa which I was conducting, all stated that they don't do sex with their wives. This was confusing since all had stated that they had children. Further probing in what constituted sex for these men, led to the understanding that what they did with their wives was not sex, but DUTY. "I do duty to my wife" was the common expression. In the sex act between husband and wife, there was very little affection and foreplay, if any at all, and the actual time for the sex act was less than five minutes! Everything was focused on penetration and discharge. Sex with the wife as duty - not pleasure.. Sex was something else for these men. Sex was what you did outside marriage. And in this context, much of this sex was seen as masti, mischief, play. At the same time, several female colleagues have reported to me that many women see sex with their husbands as WORK! Not something that they actively participated in. Just something they have to do because it is expected of them - receptacles to male discharge... Male sexual behaviours do not arise into practice out of nowhere. They have a context, a history based both on time and place, on culture and tradition, on myths, on beliefs. It is these that need to be addressed in sexual health programmes. Addressing the actual act, i.e. promoting condoms (which actually sustains the phallic psycho-social constructions and gender biases), handing leaflets out, and warning of the dangers, is not enough. These don't alone change behaviours to sustainable safer practices. For example, a traditional belief amongst some males is that one drop of semen is equivalent to one hundred drops of blood. Masturbation produces weakness and sickness. To let semen fall is a wasted discharge. One must discharge into something, whomever that something is. Discharge into a condom is not enough. At the same time another common belief is that men must discharge, that they are naturally lustful. Wives on the other hand are honoured as Mothers, Sisters, and bearers of children, traditionally holding the honour of the family. One can't ask the wife to perform non-reproductive sex acts, such as oral or anal sex. This would be shameful and dishonour her. Such desires should be fulfilled outside the marriage. And as long as it remains invisible, no one will talk about it, it doesn't exist. Similarly, since the act of penetration is the definer of manliness and therefore worthiness, a man penetrating another male is not perceived as a homosexual, or in in the Indian sense a gandhu. He perceives himself and is perceived by others, as a man. It is not the sex of the sex partner, but the sexual act that defines gender roles here. The penetrated male therefore is not defined as another man. Male to male sexual encounters are primarily gendered. Within the context of South Asian cultures, the terminological use of heterosexual and homosexual frameworks do not exist in the sense that they are understood in the West. We may therefore speak of behaviourally heterosexual or behaviourally homosexual. Personal identities are not based upon sexual behaviours and choices. They are based upon class, caste, religion and family.

Males who have sex with males in South Asia a kothi framework N/A (Now as PDF Download: by Shivananda Khan (Pukaar 31, pp. 12-3, 22-3) If the link is not working, access via Naz Foundation International Home Page.

"It is often asked "how many MSM are there in Bangladesh? or India?", usually by Western donors, consultants, and representatives of many AIDS NGOs. The question appears to be reasonable on the surface, but it actually represents a misconception in terms of the social construction of MSM behaviours and identities in the region... Contemporary research on sexuality and gender have clearly shown that bipolar categories, such as man or woman as gender categories, and heterosexual or homosexual as sexual categories, are "not useful to describe the range of identities, desires and practices" (personal discussion with Carol Jenkins, Care Bangladesh, 1999) existing in South Asia. The terms "gay" or "homosexual" are also too constricted by a specific history, geography, language and culture to have any significant usefulness in a different culture from their source. In this we should the be talking about sexualities, genders, and at the least, homosexualities and heterosexualites..." (

The risks of categorisation N/A - Author? (Pukaar 21) The debate continues.... If the link is not working, access via Naz Foundation International Home Page.  This article may again become available.

"First we had homosexuals, then gay men... It was realised that the terms gay men or homosexual men, may not be appropriate in non Western cultures (not that they were appropriate in Western cultures either for many men!). So we had the term bisexual. But this was also shown to be an inadequate description, since the term bisexual implied some sort of bisexual identity. So then we had behaviourally homosexual. All these terms were problematic in the field of actual sexual behaviours, particularly in cultures very different from the Euro-American frameworks. A new phrase arose: men who have sex with men. This was an attempt to recognise that identity based sexualities were insufficient to address the needs of large numbers of men who had no specific sexual identity, or did not identify with a stigmatised sexuality. In other words there were significant numbers of men who have sex with men, who did not identity with the labels, gay, homosexual or bisexual, or even understand them - they would be meaningless - white noise..." (

Men who have sex with men in Bangladesh N/A (Now as PDF Download: - by Gary Dowsett (Pukaar 27, October 1999. pp. 18-9, 22). Gary Dowsett is Associate Professor, Australian Research Centre in Sex, Health and Society, Faculty of Health Sciences, La Trobe University, Melbourne, Australia. Extract from his Report to Care Bangladesh on a review of HIV/AIDS research and programmes for men who have sex with men in Bangladesh. If the link is not working, access via Naz Foundation International Home Page.

"The materials reviewed constitute a significant body of new knowledge on MSM in the HIV/AIDS literature, consistent with more recent research in identifying and classifying sexual patterns in more culturally specific and appropriate terms. This current work wisely eschews an a priori application of the traditional Western sexuality categories that have dominated the HIV/AIDS field to date, i.e. immediately (and incorrectly) classifying all such MSM behaviour "homosexual" or "gay", and instead allowing further examination of local sexual cultures underpinning such behaviour with a open mind. This research is an important achievement and reflects current thinking about applying contemporary sexuality theory to the problem of HIV/AIDS (e.g. Patton 1990)... The research also indicates that the patterning of male-to-male sexual activity is multiform and does not immediately map onto the predominant model that applies to HIV epidemics among MSM in, say, Australia, Britain, or the United States..." (

MSM networks: identity categories versus identity continuum - by Deep Purkayastha (Now as PDF Download: (Pukaar 27, October 1999. pp. 16-7, 23). Deep Purkayastha is Project Coordinator, Praajak Development Society, Calcutta, India. If the link is not working, access via Naz Foundation International Home Page.

"Like the rest of South Asia the word "gay" has little meaning, political or otherwise to most members of MSM networks in Calcutta and its suburbs. It is often used lightly to refer to males who either have or are open to having sex with other - males. In Bangla and in Hindi the terms used are line - er chhele or line ka larka.The word game is also used by some people instead of "line". Both the words are used to denote openness to male to male sexual behaviour rather than any sexual identity. This way of referring to each other reflects the widespread perception among MSM that male to male sexual activity does not constitute a widely acceptable criterion around which all MSM can define themselves as a community. For most MSM such a suggestion is incomprehensible and community building on the basis of a not-so-serious "game" (often called "masti" in Hindi) is seen to be unnecessary and devoid of meaning. The words "game" or "line" therefore suggest sexual activity and sexual pleasure and may be considered an indigenous way of viewing those males who are categorised as MSM... We have also seen that socially constructed views of femininity and masculinity significantly influences risk behaviour, health seeking behaviour, decision making power, condom negotiation and access to health information and services. No prevention programme can be a success if such gender related differences are not addressed. It is imperative that we refain from using Western categories of sexual behaviour and orientation and build our project strategy on the firm basis of indigenious gender catagories..." (

A Rose By Any Other Name...? Gay vs MSM - by Owais Khan, and a response - Kothis, gays and (other) MSM - by Shivananda Khan (Pukaar 32, January 2001, pp. ). If the link is not working, access via Naz Foundation International Home Page.

"It is not gay vs MSM. It is gay men and MSM. And in South Asia I would have to say gay men, kothis and a variety of MSM. In the amazing diversity of male sexual frameworks (and perhaps female as well), localised terminologies, identities and sensibilities become lost in the globalising of the term gay, a term that specifically arose from an Anglo-Saxon history and context... South Asia has an incredible diversity of identities, desires, and frameworks of expression. It can truly be called a queer space. Hijras, transvestities, transgendered, gay-identified men, kothis/dangas, panthis/giriyas, double-deckers/do-parathas/dubli, men/males who have sex with other men/males, in all its variety of terminologies, behavioural choices, desires and constructions. Are we truly saying that we should reduce this diversity into the singular construction of a gay identity, a term that does not readily translate into the multiplicity of languages and dialects that reflect the diversity of South Asia itself? ...And are we also saying that control of AIDS in South Asia does not matter, that people who do not identify with a gay sensibility do not matter? Behaviour and identity are not always congruent as any good social anthropologist should know. Of course the emergent gay movement in South Asia is extremely important for those who do identify as gay, and also for those who are exploring their own emergent sexual sense of self and gayness and are looking for a positive affirming identity that makes sense to them. Then to say gay is appropriate and right. But at the same time to denigrate or deny other frameworks of identities and choices is not..." (

Homosexuality in Ancient India - by Dr. Devdutt Pattanaik (Pukaar 33). Dr. Devdutt Patanaik is the author of several essays and books on Hindu lore. If the link is not working, access via Naz Foundation International Home Page.

"Did homosexuality exist in ancient India? The answer in many respects depends on what we mean by homosexuality... To find out if homosexuality or same-sex intercourse existed in India, and in what form, we have to turn to three sources: images on temple walls, sacred narratives and ancient law books... An overview of temple imagery, sacred narratives and religious scriptures does suggest that homosexual activities ­ in some form ­ did exist in ancient India. Though not part of the mainstream, its existence was acknowledged but not approved. There was some degree of tolerance when the act expressed itself in heterosexual terms ­ when men Œbecame women¹ in their desire for other men, as the hijra legacy suggests. The question that remains now is: how does attitudes towards homosexuals in ancient India affect modern-day attitudes? Is our approval or disapproval of same-sex affection and intercourse dependent on ancient values? And while we ponder over the questions, we must remind ourselves that the ancient sources that censure homosexual conduct, also institutionalised the caste system and approved the subservience of women..." (

Anti-Sodomy Laws - An Indian Overview N/A - (Now Available as PDF Download: by Aditya Bondyopadhyay (Pukaar 34, July 2001, pp. 4-5, 13-4, 23). If the link is not working, access via Naz Foundation International Home Page. This article may again become available.

"This trend of homo-sociability has been eroded over the past century and a quarter when sodomy has been criminalised in India. It is true that in India the anti-sodomy laws have been sparsely used, and very few documented cases exist. Yet the existence of the law has had a profound impact in transforming the tolerant ethos of yore. Also the law has been abused more than it is has been used and it is a Damocles' sword that hangs over the heads of at least twenty million adult male Indians, who are subjected to extortion, blackmail, abuse and threats, courtesy this law. Before we delve further it is important to glean an insight into the way the collective Indian psyche works today, so that we are in a better position to place and relate this law in the proper perspective. In India two parallel trends exist today as far as men who have sex with men are concerned. The first is a pseudo acceptance of same sex relationships, arising out of non acknowledgement of the very existence of homosexuality. This is an ostrich like blindness to the very possibility of homosexuality by a society in denial, where homosexuality is not spoken of at all and ignored where visible. This attitude has its benefits in as much as homosexuals are left alone to their own devices and are not untowardly bothered. But it also means that the system and the state does not take any step whatsoever by way of welfare measures for homosexuals, or for the protection of their basic human and fundamental rights. The second trend is an outright homophobic reaction by certain segments within society. In misplaced appreciation of what 'Indian' culture is all about, the state and many so called cultural organisations categorise homosexuality as a western/foreign import. It is considered by them to be alien to Indian culture, and looked upon as a corrupting influence that needs to be curbed. This translates into various violations of the basic human and fundamental rights of homosexuals..." (

Essays Available for Download (Word Files) by NAZ Foundation International. Download via accessing "Essay" section via "Menu" at, or directly via links given below. (Note: "N/A" means "Not Available." However, these essays were once available and then removed from the site in 2003. It may be possible to obtain a copy of these essays by making a related request to Naz Foundation International.)

NOTE: All Essay references / links were placed on a Companion Web Page. Excerpts are also given.


Reports Available for Download (Word Files) from NAZ Foundation International. Download via accessing "Essay" section via "Menu" at , or directly via links given below. Listing at: N/A . New Index for Publications: Index Page for Assessments and Reports. Reports are now available as PDF files. If the link is not working, access via Naz Foundation International Home Page.

The Impact of Legal, Socio-Cultural, Legislative, and Socio-Economic Impediments to Effective HIV/AIDS Intervention With MSM. By Bandhu Social Welfare Society (Dhaka), Aditya Bondyopadhyay (Technical and Legal Consultant, Naz Foundation), Institutional Development of Human Rights In Bangladesh (2002). Word 97 Download: N/A . If the link is not working, access via Naz Foundation International Home Page. If the document is not available anymore, a copy may be made available by contacting NFI.

Excerpt: In response to the question as to who all were aware that the respondent had male-to-male sex, 98% reported that their friends knew. Yet almost a third [33%] of the respondents have also said that friends were the ones who had subjected them to sexual assault or rape. Assault of a sexual nature, or rape at the hands of friends’ i.e. those who the respondent knew and trust, at 33%, is next only to sexual assault or rape at the hands of mastaan/goonda [traditional terms for hoodlums or bullies] and the Police. 64% of the total respondents reported facing harassment of one kind or the other at the hands of the police. One of the most prevalent forms of abuse is the rape or sexual assault of kotis. It often results because the accepted notion amongst many goondas and mastaans as well as some police is that kotis are available for sex. Their will/choice is rarely respected when police or mastaan/goondas want to have sex with them.

Rape and sexual assault also results when kotis or male sex workers refuse to pay the extortion demands of hoodlums or police. It may be noted that all the male sex workers are kotis and that most of them are the penetrated partners in the sex act. Mymensingh, Dhaka, and Sylhet reported gang rape by policemen, where kotis were rounded up and taken either to police barracks or the police post and raped by groups of policemen. Such forced sex is always unsafe and often results in serious physical injury like ruptured rectum, internal hemorrhage etc. It is also generates risks for the police officials. 48% of the respondents reported that they have been sexually assaulted or raped by policemen, and 65% have reported that they have been sexually assaulted or raped by Mastaans/Goondas.

The other factor that contributes to the abridgement of the basic safety of MSM and kotis in public areas is that mastaans are often in cohorts with the beat policemen. Kotis therefore do not receive any protection from the police when any harassment or assaults by the mastaans are actually reported. This was clearly evidenced in the FGDs as well as in the in-depth interviews. When a participant in Mymensingh was asked as to why he did not tell the beat policeman about the fact that a well known mastaan had forcibly had anal sex with him and had thereafter snatched his money, he replied ‘I was injured and bleeding in the anus. When I reached the place where the police persons usually stand, I found that the mastaan was taking money out of my wallet and giving it to the police. I was afraid that if I went to the policeman, he would force me to have sex with him too. I was in no condition to endure that.” This pattern is repeated in all the cities. In all the cities participants of FGDs were clearly reluctant to approach the police for any protection. They cited the basic sense of insecurity they felt from the police and the fact that in the past the police had victimised them instead of preventing or acting against the assaulter, as a reason for this reluctance..."

"It is clear from the in-depth interviews as well as from the FGDs that economic deprivation was a result arising from harassment during education. In Mymensingh, in one FGD, six out of seven participants stated that one of the main reasons why they left school was the harassment that they faced. “How can you study when all the time the classmates are making fun of you” is a common refrain. One interviewee in Sylhet said “My teacher called me to his house on the pretext of teaching me maths. But there he forced me to have sex with him. Then he told another teacher who also made me have sex with him. He also threatened to tell the principal that I am a bad person and I have sex. I was so scared; I refused to go to school any more. I was then in my 6th standard. I never studied any more.” They also stated that they couldn’t get a good job because of this and that many are forced to take sex work as a source of livelihood. The same interviewee from Sylhet states later “I think my teacher is responsible for my being a sex worker. I am sure I would get a job if I could have studied further. But I know that now and it is too late. If I had then known what I know now, I would have exposed my teacher, and continued my studies.” One person who is a graduate from a university participated in an FGD in Chittagong. He said, “My results in the finals were not good, and therefore I have to work in an NGO. Otherwise I would have gotten a good government job. I just could not study due to all the mental torture that my classmates subjected me to. Even the professors used to make fun of me in class.” ...33% of the respondents reported that they have either thought of or tried to commit suicide at some point in their lives."

Pakistan Enhanced HIV/AIDS Program: Social Assessment and Mapping of Men Who Have Sex With Men (MSM) in Lahore, Pakistan. By Shivananda Khan and Tahir Khilji (Naz Foundation International, 2002) (Full Report for The World Bank, Pakistan, Word 97 Download: N/A (Now Available as PDF Document: - Short Report for The World Bank, Pakistan, Word 97 Download: N/A (Now Available as PDF Document: If the link is not working, access via Naz Foundation International Home Page. If the document is not available anymore, a copy may be made available by contacting NFI.
Excerpt: "Pakistan is a male dominated society where the social and public spaces are primarily male. As a homosocial and homoaffectionalist society, sexual boundaries between males can often be crossed in appropriate spaces and become sexualised acts. Further significant levels of males perform gendered roles as feminised males and can be accessed by those defined as “real men”. Male to male sexual behaviours does exist in Lahore at substantial levels.

Most of these behaviours do not exist within a social context of a heterosexual/homosexual oppositional binary as exclusive categories. Rather there appears to be an inclusive behaviour which involves a substantial level of men/males operating within a wide variety of categories and/or networks, which involves at times, gendered self-identities, ‘body heat’ leading to a perceived urgent need for semen discharge, ready and easy accessibility to male sexual partners, and the social contexts of gender segregation, social policing of females, delayed marriage, and concepts of masculinity and femininity.

The frameworks of male to male sex, often substantially divergent and exclusive, involve males who self- identify as zenanas , males/men who take on the penetrating role in male to male sex (known as giryas by zenanas) accessing zenanas, hijras, and at times, adolescent males. These males are usually perceived by giryas as feminised males/females which enables the girya to maintain his sense of manliness. Other dynamics include males who access other males for discharge and/or desire to be penetrated, males who desire male to male sex and do not gender themselves and usually indulge in mutual sexual activity - ‘giving and taking’, friends have sex with friends for mutual pleasure, and males in all male institutions.

These networks of differing MSM contexts may at times inter-penetrate, where individuals may shift along differing networks, but usually they are mutually exclusive. In other words there are complex dynamics and diffusion in relation to male to male sex in Lahore. The most visible of these networks are those involving zenanas and hijras because of their public performative role which is a part of their self-identification, and those of malishias as male sex workers alongside their massage trade because of their occupational visibility. It was this visibility and ready accessibility that contoured the Social Assessment Study in Lahore in terms of which dynamic of MSM were interviewed. It should therefore be clearly recognised that this Assessment does not tell the whole story of male to male sex in Lahore.

Male to male sex work is a significant factor in Lahore. A broad range of frameworks exist here. Hijras, zenanas, malishias, and other males, will sell sex because of poverty and unemployment... There are other networks of male to male sex, not only in a range of male only institutions, or between young male friends in neighbourhoods, but also between older men and adolescent boys. These frameworks can be seen within contexts of - desire for a specific sexual act, i.e. anal sex - body heat’ that requires discharge - mutual desire for male to male sex - desire for adolescent boys known in the historical literature as “beardless youths”..."

Situational Assessments in Sexual Health Among Males Who Have Sex With Males and Their Sexual Partners in South Asia (February 6 - June 6, 2000) - by Shivananda Khan, NAZ Foundation International, November 11, 2000. (Download directly: (Now available as PDF Download: If the link is not working, access via Naz Foundation International Home Page. If the document is not available anymore, a copy may be made available by contacting NFI.

From the Executive Summary: "In the sociocultural context of South Asia, the issue of male to male sexual behaviours and their impact upon the reproductive and sexual health of males and females have profound implications for the effective control and management of STDs and HIV infections in the region. However, the existence of MSM in South Asia, the extent of male to male sexual behaviours and its impact on the HIV epidemic have been largely ignored... Because of social stigmatisation and public shame leading to invisibility and denial, in a region of 1.4 billion people, there are very few STI/HIV and reproductive and sexual health services focused on the issues of males who have sex with males. Sexual health information and services are primarily focused on so-called “heterosexual” behaviours, i.e. vaginal sex,  and ignore the significant levels of anal sex, irrespective of the gender of the sexual partner. Formative research is urgently needed to understand how to design appropriate sexual health interventions regarding male to male sexual behaviours and MSM."
Also as: Sexual Health Of Males In South Asia Who Have Sex With Other Males: Results of  Situational Assessments in Four Cities in India and Bangladesh. Research conducted by Naz Foundation International (funded by FHI Asia) Synopsis by Tim Mackay (2001), JSI UK (funded by DFID India). (Download directly: If the link is not working, access via Naz Foundation International Home Page.
From the Executive Summary: "Situational assessments of the sexual health of males who have sex with males were conducted in four cities in India and Bangladesh in early 2000. They involved a total of 800 respondents to a set questionnaire, 200 focused interviews, 8 focus group discussions plus site observations.

Major findings included: - a great diversity and fluidity in social, sexual and gender identities and behaviours of these males that is very different from a western “gay” experience; - a very high level of HIV/STI vulnerability and risk-taking amongst feminised males (kothis) who have sex with males, especially those who sold sex – resulting from low economic and social status, low self-esteem, high frequency of receptive anal sex with very low levels of condom use, a large number of different partners and poor access to sexual health diagnosis and treatment services; ...

The assessments do not attempt to provide epidemiological proof of a specific and quantifiable contribution of sex between males to the prevalence and incidence of HIV infection or other STIs in South Asian countries. They do, however, argue that sex between males is likely to have a greater significance in this region than generally acknowledged because of its scale, the way in which it is socially constructed and the amount of sex that these males have with their female partners. Although limited in scope these studies are a useful and timely contribution to understanding and addressing these problems. They should contribute to a strengthened sexual health program and response to HIV infection in South Asian countries."

Helping Others To Help Themselves: a Naz Foundation International Partners Consultation Meeting (December 7-10,  2000) - Hyderabad, India. (Download directly: N/A N/A) If the link is not working, access via Naz Foundation International Home Page. If the document is not available anymore, a copy may be made available by contacting NFI.

From the Abstract: "There is growing evidence that indicate significant levels of males who have sex with males in South Asia, as well as the existence of substantial numbers of male commercial sex workers... Further, many young males (both pre-adolescent and adolescent) are also involved in these activities...

Baseline Assessment Amongst Males Who Have Sex With Males in Chennai, India. Sahodaran Baseline Assessment conducted by Sahodaran staff between May1999 - July 1999. (Download directly: N/A) (Now Available as PDF Document: If the link is not working, access via Naz Foundation International Home Page. If the document is not available anymore, a copy may be made available by contacting NFI.

From the Executive Summary: Unlike female sex workers and IDUs, MSM is not a bounded category of people, defined by a specific occupation or activity. Contemporary sexuality research has made it clear that bipolar categories, such as heterosexual and homosexual or even bisexual, are not very useful to describe the range of identities, desires and practices existing in most cultures. The terms “gay” or homosexual are also too bounded by history, geography and culture to have universal usefulness.

Other studies of MSM in India have revealed several important points pertinent to HIV behavioural risks. They found that an unknown proportion of men experience male-to-male sex, usually anal intercourse, while young, often before male-to-female sex and often with brothers-in-law or cousins. Some portion of these young men find that their experience of sex between men resonates with their own sexual desires and gender role preferences. Still within the realm of the masculine, but feeling gratified in the receptive role, these men are called kotis (in Chennai, the term danga is also used). Their insertive partners are called panthis. Kotis are sometimes feminine In behaviour and some even take female hormones in order to develop breasts. They are not intersexed or hijras, but prefer to attract males as partners. Due to the social and familial pressure to marry and produce children, most kotis eventually marry, though many delay as long as possible..."

Male Reproductive and Sexual Health and HIV/AIDS in South Asia: a Regional Consultation Meeting for Males Who Have Sex With Males - Calcutta, India (March 4-7, 1999). (Download directly: N/A N/A) (Now available as a PDF Document: If the link is not working, access via Naz Foundation International Home Page. If the document is not available anymore, a copy may be made available by contacting NFI.

From the Executive Summary: "In order to discuss these issues and develop a range of recommendations for action that deal with the range of male to male sexual behaviours and the consequent risks for STI/HIV transmission amongst both males and females a special consultation meeting was organised in Calcutta, India by Naz Foundation International (based in the UK), Praajak Development Society (Calcutta), and Prakriti-Sahodaran (Chennai). All these agencies work in the field of sexual health promotion amongst males who have sex with males, and are managed by MSM themselves."

Perspectives on males who have sex with males in Bangladesh and India  1997 - Shivananda Khan. PDF Download: N/A . (Now available as a PDF Document: If the document is not available anymore, a copy may be made available by contacting NFI.

Excerpts: All current research into constructions of male to male sexual behaviours in South Asia indicate that they do not fit the patterns of heterosexual/homosexual behaviours so common in HIV literature. There is no such clear cut dividing line. Sexual identities of South Asian males do not fit this Western pattern, and this creates further invisibility of sexual behaviour patterns. Many males who have anal sex with other males also have vaginal and anal sex with females. Many males who have sex with males are married. Early sexual encounters by many males are often with another male. It becomes an urgent necessity to discover the true patterns of male sexual behaviours if any effective approaches to HIV management and control is to be conducted in South Asia...Considerable anecdotal evidence indicates that many boys experience homosexual behaviours at a early age. They are not men. In Asian contexts the word MAN carries certain social signifiers around adulthood defined by marriage and children. Post-pubescent boys may be seen as men in one context, whilst in other contexts still seen as boys until they are married with child ren. "Beardless youths" with full genital development would still be seen as boys. In other words, it is not only men who have sex w ith men. Boys of varying ages also have sex with boys and men... The denial of histories of gender constructions, sexualities and sexual behaviours by various discourses of both Western and South Asian origin have had a central impact in understanding the conceptualisation of gender identities and sexuality in South Asia. No Indian research institution has dealt with this denial. Instead they have only perpetuated the invisibility of these histories. Further, the current construction of sexuality arising from Western discourses is often ahistoric and the only sexuality that is seen as relevant is that of penetrative heterosexuality. Perversely, any other form is categorised as deviant and Western. This reduces the rich histories of sexualities to an oppositional dichotomy between concepts of heterosexuality and homosexuality which are a consequence of certain Western historical frameworks and understandings of sexuality...

Sexualities, sexual behaviours and sexual health: a consultation meeting of representatives from National AIDS Programmes from the Central Asian Republics (March 24-26, 1997) - Almaty, Kazakstan.  (Download directly: N/A,%20Sexual%20Behaviours%20and%20Sexual%20Health.doc N/A) If the link is not working, access via Naz Foundation International Home Page. If the document is not available anymore, a copy may be made available by contacting NFI.

From the Introduction: "Shivananda Khan of the Naz Foundation and Ali Firat of the Berlin Society of Turkish Health Professionals formed the organising team for the consultation. The Working Group Facilitators were Ms. Ludmillla Mamedova and Mr. Ulfat Mekhtiyev of the Azerbaijan AIDS Association 'ILHAS'. Opening presentations were made by Mr. Erkin Durmbetov, Deputy Health Minister of Kazakstan, Mr. Herbert Behrstock, Resident UN Coordinator, Chairperson of the UN Theme Group on AIDS, Ms. Ludmillla Mamedova and Mr. Khan. 21 participants from Kazakstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan took part. They were invited in their capacity of working in governmental HIV/AIDS agencies providing education, prevention and/or support and care.

Developing Appropriate Strategies: Consultation Meeting Of Representatives From Non-Governmental Organisations Working On HIV/AIDS Prevention And Care Issues Within Muslim Communities (October 26-29, 1995) - Karachi, Pakistan. (Download directly: N/A - N/A) If the link is not working, access via Naz Foundation International Home Page. If the document is not available anymore, a copy may be made available by contacting NFI.

From the Introduction: "Mr Shivananda Khan of the Naz Project and Mr Shouket Ali of the Pakistan AIDS Prevention Society formed the organising team for the consultation. Opening presentations were made by Mr Khan and Mr Ali as well as Dr Sharaf Ali Shah, Director of the AIDS Control Programme of the Government of Sindh, Pakistan. Closing remarks were made by Mr Khan, Mr Ali, Dr Sharaf Ali Shah, Dr. Birjees Masher Kazim, Programme Manager, National AIDS Control Programme of Pakistan, and the Chief Justice of Pakistan, His Excellency Sarjad Ali Shah.47 participants from Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Egypt, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Morocco, Pakistan, Sudan, Tunisia, Turkey, as well as from Muslim communities in Canada, Germany, Norway, UK and USA, took part."

Briefing Papers Available for Download (Word Files) from NAZ Foundation International. Download via accessing "Essay" section via "Menu" at , or directly via links given below. By 2003, these briefing papers became unavailable, then some of them re-appeared. For Publications, Reports and Document, See - N/A . If the link is not working, access via Naz Foundation International Home Page.  New Index for Publications: Index Page For Briefing Papers: The 10 Briefing papers now on one PDF file (April 2005): The Briefing Papers are also available as individual Word document with the URLs given below.

Action For Life, 1999. (Briefing paper # 1 - If the link is not working, access via Naz Foundation International Home Page. Word Download: If the document is not available anymore, a copy may be made available by contacting NFI.

Communty Mobilising, March 1999. (Briefing paper # 2 - If the link is not working, access via Naz Foundation International Home Page. Word Download: If the document is not available anymore, a copy may be made available by contacting NFI.

Developing community-based sexual health services for males who have sex with males in South Asia, August 1999. (Briefing paper # 3 - If the link is not working, access via Naz Foundation International Home Page. Word Download: If the document is not available anymore, a copy may be made available by contacting NFI.

Excerpt: "Male to male sexual  frameworks and behaviours is of major concern because it has been denied and invisibilised across the South Asia region. Yet significant evidence exists that such behaviours are substantive and have major consequences for any reproductive and sexual health programme if ignored. Naz Foundation International, working with networks and groups of males who have sex with males in a number of cities in South Asia has developed a process for enabling such males to form their own HIV/AIDS prevention service agencies. A process of community-building and mobilising empowering males who have sex with males towards providing and managing their own sexual health services. This is part of a parallel process of ensuring that male to male sexual behaviours are acknowledged in any sexual health promotion programme..."

The Kothi Framework, November 2000. (Briefing paper # 4 - If the link is not working, access via Naz Foundation International. Word Download: If the document is not available anymore, a copy may be made available by contacting NFI.

Excerpt: "It is often asked “how many MSM are there in Bangladesh? or India?”, usually by Western donors, consultants, and representatives of many AIDS NGOs. The question seems to be reasonable and make sense, but it actually represents a misconception of the context of male sexual behaviours in the region. In this context we should really be talking about male to male sexual behaviours rather than men who have sex with men (MSM). Further, the way the question is phrased generates a conception of MSM as an exclusive group, an identity rather than a behaviour. But, even more contentiously, the question itself cannot be answered with any adequate response or accuracy. In summary what we can say about male to male behaviours in Bangladesh and India is that...

Anal Sex and Anal STDS (Briefing Paper 5 - If the link is not working, access via Naz Foundation International Home Page. Word Download: If the document is not available anymore, a copy may be made available by contacting NFI.

Excerpt: "In a study from Pune (1), reported in India¹s new journal, AIDS Research and Review, a large cohort study of the incidence of HIV between 1993 and 1998 found 7.6% new infections per 100 person years. In this cohort, 3% of 9300 persons (male and females were combined) reported anal sex in the past three months. The incidence of HIV among those who were receptive partners was very high, 42.5% with a relative risk of 8.6, the highest among all the possible risk factors analysed. The authors did not indicate the sex of these receptive partners but it is clear that the anal sex issue has emerged as a significant factor in India¹s epidemic. The stigma attached to anal sex in South Asia is such that few doctors can be found who will openly discuss the topic. Most appear simply not to believe anal sex takes place..."
The context of social constructions of masculinities in south Asia and the kothi framework. This paper arises from studies Aditya Bondyopadhyay has conducted in Bangladesh and India, and the work of NFI. - Naz Foundation International: (Briefing Paper No. 8 - ) Note: Faulty Web Page! If the link is not working, access via Naz Foundation International Home Page. Word Download: If the document is not available anymore, a copy may be made available by contacting NFI.
Excerpt: "It is important to locate the issues of sexual health of males who have sex with males in a theoretical framework around the construction of masculinities in south Asia. This is necessary to contextually conceptualize the dynamics which gives rise to the violations and violence against MSM in conservative and discriminatory settings as found in south Asia. Sexual Identities take shape within psychosocial and historical processes, which in turn are contextualised by culture and language. Therefore, one finds that different cultures often translate similar words and phenomena into different meanings, with inherent subtleties typical of that culture. Therefore, at the very beginning, it is important to understand that eurocentric perceptions and values gives a definition to heterosexual, homosexual and bisexual identities quite different from how these phenomena are understood in south Asia..."

Know Your Rights - India: Are You a ‘Man Who Has Sex With other Men [MSM]’? Do you know your Rights? - Naz Foundation International: (Briefing Paper No. 9. - If the link is not working, access via Naz Foundation International Home Page. Word Download: If the document is not available anymore, a copy may be made available by contacting NFI.

Excerpt: "Do you know that in India it is a crime for two men to have sex with each other: Well that’s what section 377 of the Indian Penal Code says. This section punishes ‘Carnal intercourse against the order of nature’ with up to life imprisonment. Although it is not defined what ‘against the order of nature’ means, the courts have ruled that this includes anal sex and oral sex. The question is how valid is this law, and is it implemented? This law was made in 1860, and was based on the English anti sodomy laws. In England the anti sodomy laws have been undone. But this law remains in force in India. But with the change in understanding and attitude towards homosexuality, there is growing demand for a repeal of this law even in India. The Law Commission of India has recommended that this law should be repealed. Also this law is against the fundamental rights guaranteed to all citizens including MSM..."

Networks, Language and Sexual Behaviours of Men Who Have Sex With Men in an Urban Setting. By Dr. Vinay Kulkarni, Dr. Sanjeevanee Kulkarni, Ms. Neelima Sahasrabudhe, and Ms. Meghana Marathe (Pune, India). The study made possible with funding support of the Ford Foundation, India. Available in pdf format / download from the Johns Hopkins University Population Information Program Virtual Library ( N/A) at: N/A . New URL: . Access via : "Research Page".

Excerpts: "It is worthwhile to mention here that most relations were casual and took the form of masti or dosti ( meaning “being physical” and “friendship” respectively). Few mentioned about love, companionship, sharing emotional space, etc. Those who did were, as already mentioned English speaking, educated, upper middle class people. The longest lasting relationship was for about 3 years, on an average the relationships lasted for not more than 6 months. Majority of the relations did not have any emotional association, in fact hardly ever they knew the partner’s true name and address. The scene may be slightly different if the sample is selected from men having sex with other men in their private apartments, singly or in groups. The reasons behind the fleeting relationships is not clear but all the societal factors like stigma, discrimination, illegal nature of their sexual activity and inability to cope with concepts adopted from the heterosexist model like ‘active-passive’, ‘husband-wife’, As was stated by a self identified gay writer Prof. Raj Rao, “ I would not use the word ‘unnatural’. I reject it completely. I feel homosexuality is natural and that too from very early in the childhood..." ... “We need to evolve our own language. Instead of using the same worn out terms like marriage we have started talking of ‘dosti’ (friendship) and ‘masti’ (fun)’. It is interesting to note that the term derived from ‘masti’ is ‘mast’ and it represents the meaning of the word ‘gay’, both in letter and spirit...

If the MSM are everywhere then why are they not seen ? There seem to be two reasons for this. First is that, though Indian society provides ample opportunities for men to share proximity ( throwing arms around shoulders of friends, holding hands in the public, doing physical masti with friends, sharing bed with friends, etc.) it does not consider ‘homosexuality’ to be ‘normal’ or ‘natural’. There is a lot of stigma attached to being ‘homosexual’ and there is also a lot of discrimination. So those who have
male-to-male sex try to hide the fact. Second reason is that others do not want to see them. In this sense, people who are not involved in male-to-male sex, and even those who are, are or pretend to be homophobic. One might never accept the existence of male-to-male sex or would tend to condemn it, especially while addressing the issue publicly...

There is a type of cultural terrorism in our community. This is particularly true about some organisations that are exclusive male bastions. They behave as if they are self-appointed protectors of the ‘Indian culture’, while a lot of male-to-male sex thrives among the cadres. This brings us to another important facet of the issue. Why should ‘same sex’ thrive in such organisations? These organisations are not an exception. In all the situations, which provide enough opportunity for same sex interactions (both male and female), especially at the expense of any opportunity to mix with persons of opposite sex, same sex behaviour is encouraged. Thus there is more of male-to-male sex in hostels, prisons, military, campus life, police, exclusively male organisations, remand homes, and among hotel boys, street children, students, etc...

Why are people so keen to have sex ? Observations do suggest that it is not the desire to have sex but the pleasure obtained through ‘discharge’ is the overriding factor. If one is going to achieve discharge then the sex of the partner does not matter much. In fact it is much easier to get a man to help you get discharge than finding a suitable female partner for
sex. Women are more cautious while entering sexual relations for the fear of getting caught or getting pregnant. ‘Promiscuity’ is more problematic for women than men. This is a direct consequence of the patriarchal values. “It is much easier to talk to a man or take someone to a restaurant, than being seen talking to a lady in the public. You may share your room with a boy and no one would ask a question,.."

The attitudes of the families also complicate the matters. Lack of enough space in the families leads to segregation of sexes at home. The males would usually sleep together in one place and all the women in other. There is a lot of ‘under the blanket’ sex among men in such situations. If detected, the person can feign ignorance by saying “it happened during sleep”.

Street Boys' Perceptions of Sexuality and Sexual Behaviour by Radha Srinivasa Murthy & Mani Karott. BOSCO, Bangalore. Presented at: Reproductive Health in India: New Evidence and Issues. Tata Management Training Centre, Pune, Maharastra, India. February 28 to March 1 2000. Available in pdf format / download from the Johns Hopkins University Population Information Program Virtual Library ( N/A) (New URL: at: N/A . New URL: .

Excerpts: "All are aware of the word "AIDS" and think that it is deadly and that it has no cure.This information comes TV or from posters. For all, STD is equal to AIDS and they know that it is spread through heterosexual contacts and not through homosexual contact. Eye ointment is the standard medicine used by children for self-treatment... The 74 boys who are sexually active practiced a variety of sex behaviours. Only 8 boys practiced only vaginal and anal sex, the majority mentioned at least two behaviours, and seven mentioned five behaviours (See Table xxx). Fifty-four boys practiced mutual masturbation and self-masturbation (See Table xxx). Anal sex was the next most common sexual behaviour practiced by 46 boys and this was closely followed by vaginal sex (42 boys, 56.8%)...

Discussion and Implications for Intervention:
These salient findings from the study will help in formulating intervention programmes.
- High level of sexual activity, sexual activity, especially same-sex activity, is initiated at a young age...

Male Sexual Behaviour in Orissa by Martine Collumbien, Braj Das, Nabesh Bohidar, and Pertti Pelto. Workshop - Reproductive Health in India: New Evidence and issues. Pune, 28 February to 1 March 2000. Available in pdf format / download from the Johns Hopkins University Population Information Program Virtual Library ( N/A) at: N/A. (Now available at: . Also at: .

Excerpts: "The survey asked about ‘sexual relations’ with other men, with a second question on whether this ever included anal intercourse. Differentials in experience of male-to-male sex are presented in Table 7."

Married Men = 1,129
Single Men = 958

"Nearly 5 percent of single men and 6.4 percent of married men reported sexual relations with other men, but for married men a higher proportion of these contacts included anal intercourse. Thus 4.7 percent of married men reported ever having had anal sex and only 2.3 percent of single men. The most striking differential in this table are the much higher levels of male-to-male sex reported by the married men in Puri: more than 20 percent reported sexual relations and nearly 15 percent had experience of anal intercourse. This is not entirely mirrored by the experience of single men with relative few reporting anal intercourse. Sex with other men is slightly more prevalent among the urban men, though the differences were not statistically significant. The trend of increased reporting of anal intercourse with educational level among the single men (not significant), is reversed among the married men where the least educated report higher rates.

Less than one percent (0.9 percent) of both single and married men reported anal intercourse with men in the last year, but it was as high as 3 percent for married men in Puri. Among the 22 respondents who reported intercourse in the last year, two had used a condom during the last act. None of the case informants involved in anal sex had ever used a condom in any of their encounters and there was no awareness about infections transmitted from men to men."

..."The most prominent were the very high rates of sex with other men, with 15 percent of married men in Puri reporting anal intercourse ever (versus 5 percent overall). These very local variations in patterns of sexual behaviour are very striking and are more distinct than any urban rural differentials. Condom use was very low in anal intercourse and among the case informants there was no awareness of risk of transmission of STDs. Puri calls for special intervention efforts addressing male-to-male sex... The data of the coastal districts in Orissa cannot be indiscriminately generalised to other states in India (or even other districts within Orissa). Substantial variations in sexual behaviour patterns are clearly suggested by recent statistics on HIV infections."

Coming Clean About Bisexuality: A male perspective by Garrett Jones: Excerpts.

My own thinking about sexuality was influenced by many conversations I had with young Indian students. These talks were spread over the period I spent in South India between 1954 and 1966 at the outset of my career.

The first thing which struck me when I arrived in India was the way youths or men would walk around holding hands or with arms round shoulders. The second thing was the way children would walk around their villages stark naked right up to the age of puberty, the boys often having their genitals fondled or manipulated by the older males in the village. This was so contrary to anything I had experienced in Britain I was eager to try to learn what these students thought about all this.

I invariably found they became very puzzled when I started talking about homosexuality as opposed to heterosexuality. This was in the late 50s and early 60s, when, in the wake of the Kinsey report, there was a great deal of controversy about the business of sexual orientation and legality in Britain. The government had set up the Wolfenden Committee to investigate this area and report back to parliament.

My Indian students enjoyed talking about sex. They found it liberating to be able to air the subject with an older male because, as they were fond of telling me, this rarely happened in India. But when I asked them about homosexuality, they were initially quite baffled. When I tried to explain our distinction between hetero- and homo- sexuality, their puzzlement often became mingled with discomfort; I had obviously introduced a new concept which was wholly alien to them. It was as if I had put a spoon in their hands at lunch time and asked them to eat their meal with that instead of with their hands.

For these students, there were simply people for whom they felt varying degrees of affection. They took it for granted they would eventually get married and have children and their parents would arrange partners for them, but, since this was not a matter of 'falling in love', at least to begin with, they seldom expected marriage to monopolise their affections or their sexuality. The South Indian climate permits clothing to be reduced to the minimum and the temperature encourages ardour. In this situation, these young men were obviously unlikely to forget that everybody has a body; it was natural for them to express affection physically, quite regardless of gender.

As soon as I became familiar with this way of thinking, I embraced it as being far more congenial to my own nature than the ideas (if you could call them that) I had been brought up on.

It was ironic that, back in Britain, although the post-1967 male was at last permitted to have legal sex with a consenting adult male partner in private, he was at the same time being more and more polarised. This was exactly the opposite of what Kinsey had advocated. His research had led him to adopt something very like the stance I encountered in India...

 That observing such customs would have a profound impact on a new arrival from these islands I know from my own experience. When I arrived in India as an uptight young English bachelor in 1954, I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw youths and men walking the city or village streets holding hands, or one with his arms round the other’s shoulder. They did this as if it were the most natural thing in the world; I knew it was - but I also knew my friends in Britain would have had kittens had I attempted to escort them through the streets in this way.

As I said earlier [<>see chapter 2] it came as a still bigger shock to see village boys, who customarily went around completely naked until they reached puberty, being openly wanked by older men in the village. I remember attending an evening meeting in a village where we were seated outside, illuminated by a petromax lantern on the ground. The villagers in front of me were seated in a semi-circle and the man directly in front of me was wanking his two-year-old son.

The father was squatting and the lad was lying on his back with his legs toward his father; his little prick erect and being gently wanked for the duration of an hour-long meeting. None of the other villagers paid the slightest attention to them and the father himself was looking at the speaker throughout in rapt attention. The little lad never stirred or uttered a sound but seemed to be in a pleasant, comotose state.

When you see such things with your own eyes, and many other incidents of a similar nature, and observe how openly and unselfconsciously they happen, it tends to have a dramatic effect on your own sexual attitudes!..."

Supplementary References:

Posting by Shivananda Khan, Executive Director, Naz Foundation International: "Dear Colleagues, Naz Foundation International Regional Liaison Office based in Lucknow, India, hosts an extensive library of documents, books, articles, essays, reports and manuals which also include all the NFI publications and documents. Please see below a list of the NFI documents. Naz Foundation International: NFI Documents: August 2002." A Listing of documents ia given. (

Bisexuality: identities, behaviors, and politics by L. Ramakrishnan.

Indian MSM Bibilography N/A from HIVinfoweb. - Community Groups Step in Where the Indian Government Fears to Tread.

The Hijras of India Research Guide.

What Makes a Man N/A (New URL: by Martin Foreman (2000). SAfAIDS News. Vol 8, No. 2.

1 st YEAR REPORT: HIV/AIDS in India and the UK: Epidemiological and cultural linkages - by Hannah Weston (September, 2001: PDF Download File N/A)

Public honour, private shame and HIV: Issues affecting sexual health service delivery in London’s South Asian communities - by H. Weston (Department of Geography, University of Cambridge, Downing Place, Cambridge, CB2 3EN, UK: For submission to Health and Place: A Word 97 Download File N/A) - PubMed Abstract: Health Place, 2003, 9(2) :109-17.

Interview with Ashok Row Kavi: Reports on common male homosexual activity in India, often called "musti" (friendship) and "sex between men is often not thought of as sex". - Gay Today Interview with Ashok Row Kavi. - Same Sex Love in India - Book Review by Ashok Row Kavi. - Gay Leaders in India Gather for Conference (May 4, 2000): "MUMBAI, India - An interview with one of the country's most outspoken gay civil rights activists [Ashok Row Kavi] on the eve of the all-India conference for sexual minorities was published in the Times of India recently. - Gay Games Amsterdam 1998 (Radio Netherlands) N/A: "Ashok Row Kavi is chairperson of the Humsafar Trust and manager of Bombay Dost, a newsletter for gays and lesbians in Bombay, India. He found out he was gay at the age of twelve." "I was hshocked to find out there was another form of sexuality. Boys interested in girls. That was traumatic for me."

Bangladesh Study

The following was in a  Jan. 9, 1999 email from an individual in Singapore:: "By chance, an email touching on South Asian practices was circulated on the Singapore Gay List.  I quote below, in the hope that it may interest you.

A Part of the email: "New research by an international medical research institute in Bangladesh (reported in the January 1999 issue of Ki Pukar, the newsletter of the Naz Foundation) has highlighted that there are several varieties of homosexuality in the country and by analogy in India and perhaps, Singapore too.

Of the 316 'gay' men interviewed, only a small minority had heard the terms gay or homosexual.  Indigenous terms and identities exist but for most men, sex with men has no implications on their sexual identity. The most distinctive configuration of sexuality in MSMs (men who have sex with men) focuses on a gender role emphasizing receptive femininity.  These males who call themselves kothis, felt like girls from an early age, had their first sex with a man, usually a relative, and whose penis has little meaning. Their feminized girl- like boy image is acceptable to their sex partners.

A slightly more masculinised version of the kothi, is the curry kothi, who exists for those who are more worried about exposure.  As there is stigma about going out with 'bad women' a regular looking boy who can serve as a woman solves the problem.

The opposite of a kothi is a panthi, defined quite simply as a man.  One in four were married and all the others stated they too would marry. The panthi's have a masculine image with a preference for insertive sex with boys. Panthis do not often identify with the term, simply stating that they are men.  Some bring a boy to work in their home to facilitate easy access to sex.  And some stated that their wives bring boys to them.

Do-prata (a wheat flour patty fried on both sides) indicates a man who is both receptive and the penetrator.  Both panthis and kotis can be do-prata.

Of the sample, many included commercial panthi sex workers who had no desire to marry another male and thought the question ridiculous. The researcher concludes that they are therefore not kothis. Many stated that after marriage they would cease being an MSM but others admitted their 'addiction' to male sex.  They presented themselves as being driven by poverty to sell sex, but contradicted themselves by saying they also have non-commercial partners.

The writer concludes, "The variation in self assessed identity is great and fluid. Numerous combinations exist such as men who state they are mostly kothi but also do do-paratha... Bangladesh is rich in terminology for sex, sexual activities, orientations and identities, all of which exist in great regional variation as well."

Visitor Numbers

Top of Page
Comments: -