Homosexual behavior, though not homosexual identity, common in Afghanistan, according to DoD study

FOX News reports:

As if U.S. troops and diplomats didn’t have enough to worry about in trying to understand Afghan culture, a new report suggests an entire region in the country is coping with a sexual identity crisis.

An unclassified study from a military research unit in southern Afghanistan details how homosexual behavior is unusually common among men in the large ethnic group known as Pashtuns—though they seem to be in complete denial about it.

The study, obtained by Fox News, found that Pashtun men commonly have sex with other men, admire other men physically, have sexual relationships with boys and shun women both socially and sexually—yet they completely reject the label of “homosexual.” The research was conducted as part of a longstanding effort to better understand Afghan culture and improve Western interaction with the local people.

The research unit, which was attached to a Marine battalion in southern Afghanistan, acknowledged that the behavior of some Afghan men has left Western forces “frequently confused.”

The report details the bizarre interactions a U.S. Army medic and her colleagues had with Afghan men in the southern province of Kandahar.

In one instance, a group of local male interpreters had contracted gonorrhea anally but refused to believe they could have contracted it sexually—“because they were not homosexuals.”

Apparently, according to the report, Pashtun men interpret the Islamic prohibition on homosexuality to mean they cannot “love” another man—but that doesn’t mean they can’t use men for “sexual gratification.”

The group of interpreters who had contracted gonorrhea joked in the camp that they actually got the disease by “mixing green and black tea.” But since they refused to heed the medics’ warnings, many of them re-contracted the disease after receiving treatment.

The U.S. army medic also told members of the research unit that she and her colleagues had to explain to a local man how to get his wife pregnant.

The report said: “When it was explained to him what was necessary, he reacted with disgust and asked, ‘How could one feel desire to be with a woman, who God has made unclean, when one could be with a man, who is clean? Surely this must be wrong.’”

The Pashtun populations are concentrated in the southern and eastern parts of the country. The Human Terrain Team that conducted the research is part of a military effort to learn more about local populations.

The report also detailed a disturbing practice in which older “men of status” keep young boys on hand for sexual relationships. One of the country’s favorite sayings, the report said, is “women are for children, boys are for pleasure.”

The report concluded that the widespread homosexual behavior stems from several factors, including the “severe segregation” of women in the society and the “prohibitive” cost of marriage.

Though U.S. troops are commonly taught in training for Afghanistan that the “effeminate characteristics” of Pashtun men are “normal” and not an indicator of homosexuality, the report said U.S. forces should not “dismiss” the unique version of homosexuality that is actually practiced in the region “out of desire to avoid western discomfort.”

Otherwise, the report said, Westerners could “risk failing to comprehend an essential social force underlying Pashtun culture.”

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Evan H. writes:

Kandahar was one of the areas conquered by Alexander the Great. Lingering cultural effects?

Dan R. writes:

Not long after the Afghanistan invasion, Justin Raimondo described Kandahar as the San Francisco of Afghanistan. Apparently one of the reasons the Taliban came to power was to suppress these practices, but as soon as the Taliban was overthrown they returned. Who ever would have thought one could say something good about the Taliban?

LA replies:

In the 2007 movie, The Kite Runner, the protagonist, a young Afghan who emigrated to the United States 15 years earlier, returns to Taliban-ruled Afghanistan to rescue his deceased childhood friend’s son who, it turns out, has been made the male concubine of a corrupt Taliban official. In the earlier part of the movie, when they were boys, the protagonist’s friend was raped by street toughs and the protagonist, in fear, had not helped him, a failure that has haunted him ever since. So his daring rescue of his friend’s son represents a healing for him.

I suppose it’s not coincidental that the first quality theatrical movie about Afghanistan has homosexuality as a central element in the story.

Daniel B. writes:

I find it incredibly ironic that the U.S. military will do its utmost to ignore the relevance of Islam in formulating a strategy in Afganistan (McChrystal’s assesment), and yet will initiate an involved inquiry into the sexual mores of the local population. I found the story interesting inasmuch as it reveals how materialism shapes our perception of reality. We ignore the qualitative aspects of the Afghans’ immaterial faith (since obviously it is immaterial in finding a solution), while we obsess about the material details of their sex lives.

Adam M. writes:

Regarding your recent post “Homosexual behavior, though not homosexual identity, common in Afghanistan, according to DoD study,” I wonder if the authors of this study concluded their study with “Not that there’s anything wrong with that!”

Such typical Pashtun behavior would not be news to anyone who read British accounts of their campaigns in Afghanistan. I learned of it from George MacDonald Frazier’s picaresque and exactingly authentic historical novel “Flashman” (written in 1969 or thereabouts). Did our military not even bother to learn about the country where they were sent to fight?

Mark A. writes:

The article says:

The report concluded that the widespread homosexual behavior stems from several factors, including the “severe segregation” of women in the society and the “prohibitive” cost of marriage.

Wait a minute. The DoD report drew this conclusion? That is the most fascinating aspect of the story, in my humble opinion. According to the talking heads in the U.S., homosexuality is genetic. Gays are born wearing purple and listening to Cher right out of the womb. I’m very confused that the report would suggest that there could be other causes.

Are Obama’s homosexual outreach advisors aware of this subversive report from the DoD? I’m going to call the White House …

Kevin J. writes:

The Fox News report is behind the times. In a 2007 NY Times op-ed, “A True Culture War,” by Richard A. Shweder, it was reported that anthropologists are working with U.S. troops in Afghanistan to increase their tolerance for the natives’ pederasty.

An excerpt:

Nevertheless the military voices on the show had their winning moments, sounding like old-fashioned relativists, whose basic mission in life was to counter ethnocentrism and disarm those possessed by a strident sense of group superiority. [Yale-trained anthropologist Mrs. Montgomery ] McFate stressed her success at getting American soldiers to stop making moral judgments about a local Afghan cultural practice in which older men go off with younger boys on “love Thursdays” and do some “hanky-panky.” “Stop imposing your values on others,” was the message for the American soldiers. She was way beyond “don’t ask, don’t tell,” and I found it heartwarming.

In 2008 there were smirks about reports that local Afghan warlords were paid by the CIA with Viagra. Diana West, in her entry, “USA: Accessory to Child Rape?”, was one of the few who noticed that these stories were showing elderly men next to their child brides.

Let us hope none of our men return with the despicable habits and mores of these Afghans.

LA replies:

It’s not only their Islamic religion and law that puts them in a radically incommensurable world from our own, it’s these other aspects of their “culture” as well. We have no more in common with these people than a poodle has with a polar bear. They live in a different universe from ours, occupying a different niche of reality, and we should have nothing to do with them, except where absolutely necessary. Do we think that it represents some great loss of “diversity” if bluefish don’t hang out with parakeets? Or if songbirds don’t try to understand salmon? Of if lemurs don’t share their experiences with Labrador retrievers? Yet we feel that our human world has somehow failed if radically incompatible human groups that occupy different mental and cultural universes don’t interact and blend with each other. It’s insane.

Returning to the subject of Afghanistan: in 2001, after toppling the Taliban regime, routing Al Qaeda, and helping install the successor government (which had formed itself and chosen Karzai as president at a meeting in Europe), we should have withdrawn our forces, as I’ve said many times.

Rick U. writes:

I read this story this morning before you posted it at VFR, and I have to admit that my initial reaction was laughter. Then I just read Mark A.’s comment and that got me laughing again.

This article from Front Page a few years ago has some broad insights into the Muslim “homosexual” issue. The pathologies generated by an unnatural and ungodly belief system are remarkable. Hell, look at the freak show we’re growing right in the good ole USA!

Posted by Lawrence Auster at January 29, 2010 12:35 PM | Send

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