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A billboard celebrating BTS member Jeon Jungkook’s birthday has been removed from a busy intersection in Pakistan for ‘promoting homosexuality’.
The South Korean boyband’s deeply devoted fans – known as the ARMY – around the world came together to celebrate Jungkook’s birthday on Wednesday (1 September). And the ARMY in Pakistan was no exception.
Pakistan’s ARMY installed a huge billboard of Jungkook above a busy roadway in the city of Gujranwala, according to the Express Tribune. The colourful billboard depicts the singer and dancer with the words “Happy 24th birthday” and “Jungkook BTS Gujranwala ARMY” on it.
— Jungkook SNS🐰🎂 (@Jungkook_SNS) September 1, 2021
But the colourful image was taken down within hours after Furqan Aziz Butt, a provincial assembly candidate and member of Islamist political party Jamaat-e-Islami, heard about it on Facebook, according to VICE World News.
Butt told VICE World News that there had been a “lot of complaints from people” and “so much commotion” over the billboard. He then claimed that the boyband is a “negative influence” on young people and that the group ‘promotes homosexuality’.
“There are young people in this city,” Butt said. “This group (BTS) has a negative influence on them and encourages them to behave in wrong activities. They promote homosexuality.”
He questioned why the billboard was put up because he said BTS doesn’t “have a brand name here nor do they sell products here”. Butt also seemed confused as to why the fans called themselves the Gujranwala ARMY, stating “there’s only the Pakistan army here”.
One BTS fan from Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan, told VICE World News that older people in the country believe the group’s “physical features and attire are too feminine”. This older generation also takes issue with the fact that the seven members wear makeup, the fan said.
Despite the sad news that the billboard was taken down, the Pakistani ARMY has come together to get the hashtags “#BTSisPakimysPride” and “#PakistanLovesBTS” trending. The dedicated fans shared online that they will continue to love and support BTS no matter what happens.
Sadly, BTS has faced several anti-LGBT+ attacks. Though there are no out queer members of BTS, the group has spoken out in support of LGBT+ rights.
In 2018, a Russian anti-gay group cancelled a screening of the boyband’s film BTS World Tour: Love Yourself at a cinema in Makhachkala in Dagestan, in the North Caucasus region of the country. According to the Moscow Times, the group claimed the film was about “seven Korean homosexuals”.
Earlier this year, a print shop in Russia reportedly refused to print BTS greeting cards and banners for a K-pop themed cafe, insisting they were “gay propaganda”.
The PinkyPop café said it had wanted to print items representing their customers’ favourite groups, BTS and Stray Kids. But the print shop claimed it wouldn’t be printing the products because the K-pop groups had a “non-traditional orientation”, referring to the country’s so-called “gay propaganda” ban.
The owner of the print shop also asked the cafe’s staff if they wanted their “children to become perverts”, insisting it was “stupid to support something that may leave you with no grandchildren”.