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Last Updated: Wednesday, 5 October 2005, 16:36 GMT 17:36 UK
First gay 'marriage' in Pakistan
Men in Pakistan
Sodomy attracts tough punishments in conservative Pakistan
A gay couple have become the first to get "married" in Pakistan, according to reports from the region.

Witnesses said a 42-year-old Afghan refugee held a marriage ceremony with a local tribesman of 16 in the remote Khyber region bordering Afghanistan.

Gay marriage is not legal in conservative Muslim Pakistan.

On hearing of the wedding, a tribal council told the pair to leave the area or be killed for breaking religious and tribal "values and ethics".

'Pomp and show'

A local Urdu-language newspaper said the elder man, named as Liaquat Ali, had taken a local boy called Markeen as "his male bride".

The paper said the boy's impoverished parents accepted 40,000 rupees (380) for their son's hand in marriage.

"The marriage was held amid usual pomp and show associated with a tribal wedding," it said.

Malik Waris Khan, a prominent local politician and former federal minister, confirmed to AFP that the marriage had taken place.

"I checked the report with people in Tirah Valley and they confirmed it," he said.

Although it remains a taboo subject, homosexuality is relatively common in Pakistan, says the BBC's correspondent Aamer Ahmed Khan in Islamabad.

Increasingly, gay couples are living together in some of the big cities such as Karachi and Islamabad, but gay marriages remain unheard of, he says.

Pakistani law punishes sodomy with imprisonment ranging from two years to life.

Some Islamic provisions prescribe 100 lashes for the act or even death by stoning.

A gay couple caught having sex were lashed publicly in the Khyber region in May.

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