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The unclassified 18-page report, produced in 2009, stated that while many Pashtun men consider homosexuality to be forbidden under Islam, they do not consider sexual relations between boys and men to be homosexuality.

“A culturally-contrived homosexuality (significantly not termed as such by its practitioners) appears to affect a far greater population base than some researchers would argue is attributable to natural inclination,” the report stated in one of its key findings.

The report also said that “homosexuality is strictly prohibited in Islam, but cultural interpretations of Islamic teaching prevalent in Pashtun areas of southern Afghanistan tacitly condone it in comparison to heterosexual relationships in several contexts.”

Pashtun tribes and clans make up the largest ethnic group in southern Afghanistan and are a major focus of U.S. and allied military efforts to win their support against the Taliban.

The report surveyed recent literature on the subject and provided some anecdotes. One story involves an army medic who was asked in earnest by a Pashtun man how he could impregnate his wife.

One aspect of Pashtun society is that young, hairless boys are often taken as lovers by more powerful men. These boys are usually known as “Halekons.” The report said, “known frequently as halekon, ashna, or bacha bereesh, ‘beautiful’ beardless boys are coveted, almost as possessions, by men of status and position for sexual relationships. Further, the more attractive or talented the boy is deemed, the more his presence elevates the status of his patron.”

One military officer said it is one of the most popular reports downloaded by U.S. soldiers off of the secure network known as the SIPRNET.

Asked whether this presents a culture clash for young officers and enlisted men in the field, the officer said: “We encountered something like this in Iraq as well. It can be a problem, but it’s not insurmountable.”

Navy officer arrested

A civilian judge in Portsmouth, Va., ordered the arrest of a Navy officer on the destroyer USS Cole for disorderly conduct in the courthouse, according to a Navy message obtained by special correspondent Rowan Scarborough.

“Service member arrested for disorderly conduct and interfering with a law enforcement officer,” said the Sept. 3 message from the Cole to various Navy offices. “Charges are the result of a series of rude and improper actions towards officials of the court during a routine appearance at traffic court.”

A spokesman for Atlantic surface forces confirmed to Inside the Ring that Lt. Timothy J. Barry was arrested. He had just reported aboard the Cole as its combat systems officer.

“The incident is being reviewed by the sailor’s chain of command and appropriate action will be taken once the details of the case are clearly known,” the spokesman said.

The Navy message said that Lt. Barry, who was in uniform, appeared in court to challenge a traffic ticket. He refused to rise when the bailiff said “All rise” for the judge entering the courtroom. When asked why he did not stand, Lt. Barry asked whether it was a legal requirement.

After Lt. Barry was convicted of speeding, he threw his credit card onto the clerk’s desk and refused to hand his driver’s license to the clerk.

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