“We will definitely be killed … We are asking to be evacuated immediately from Afghanistan.”
Hilal (title modified), a 25-year-old homosexual man in Afghanistan, is amongst tons of of LGBTQ+ (lesbian, homosexual, bisexual, transgender, queer) members in Afghanistan who concern for his or her lives under the Taliban authorities. They have urged human rights advocates outdoors the nation to assist them escape the brand new regime.
However, with the formal exit of the US and its western allies from Afghanistan, many LGBTQ+ residents are forced to live in hiding, fearing they could both be killed or assaulted if they’re discovered by the Taliban fighters.
A month after they took over Kabul on August 15, the Taliban have failed to ship on most of their tall guarantees to repairs human rights and ladies’s rights as per their interpretation of Sharia legislation. The hardline group is but to make an open assertion about Afghanistan’s LGBTQ+ residents.
However, many concern that under the Taliban’s interpretation of Sharia legislation, homosexuality can be punishable by demise.
Threat to life
Hilal, who used to advocate for LGBTQ rights, stated shortly after Kabul fell on August 15, some males got here to his home searching for him. “They made threats to my brother, and they said to him that if I return home, they will kill me (for being LGBTQ),” CNN quoted him as saying.
With a scarcity of meals and different provides, Hilal stated he might by no means be ready to return to his household’s dwelling.
“We are LGBT. It is not our fault. It has been written as such in my destiny, in my spirit … No one can change this. All they can do is to kill me,” Hilal stated.
Rabia Balkhi (title modified), a 20-year-old college scholar, stated one homosexual man in her neighbourhood was raped after being discovered by the Taliban.
An Afghan ladies stands face-to-face with a Taliban fighter who factors gun at her. (Image: Reuters)
Balkhi stated when she and her household left their dwelling in Kabul and moved to a secret location after August 15, fearing they could be attacked if the Taliban got here to know that she was a lesbian.
“The Taliban have exact information about every family here,” CNN quoted Balkhi as saying.
Balkhi fears that if the Taliban got here to learn about her, she would be stoned to demise.
The concern of identification additionally plagues Abdul (title modified), a 21-year-old homosexual man, who’s underground after the return of the Taliban.
“As a gay person in Afghanistan, you cannot reveal yourself, even to your family or your friends. If I reveal myself to my family, maybe they will beat me, maybe they will kill me,” he told BBC.
Abdul stated even when the Taliban gave some rights to ladies, they might by no means settle for homosexual or LGBTQ+ individuals. “They will kill all of them on the spot,” he stated.
Life under earlier Afghan authorities
While the return of the Taliban is sure to elevate concern among the many LGBTQ+ community, life wasn’t as simple in the previous US-backed authorities in Kabul.
A 2020 US State Department report on Afghanistan stated LGBTQ individuals confronted “discrimination, assault and rape” in addition to harassment and arrest by authorities.
“Homosexuality was widely seen as taboo and indecent,” the report acknowledged.
Under the earlier authorities, homosexuality was unlawful and punishable by up to two years in jail.
According to a 2013 UK government report, whereas the Afghan legal guidelines on homosexuality weren’t at all times enforced, they did make LGBTQ+ residents weak to extortion and abuse by authorities.
LGBTQ+ community members, who spoke to CNN, stated they frequently confronted discrimination, together with verbal abuse and the specter of bodily violence, however there was “at least a space in society for them”.
Abdul corroborated this reality, saying regardless of restrictions, he was having fun with his life in the nation’s vibrant metropolis heart.
“My studies were going perfectly. There was life in the city, there were crowds in the city,” he informed BBC.
However, with the return of the Taliban, Abdul feels he has watched his life disappear in entrance of him.
“There is no future for us,” he informed BBC.
Activism for LGBTQ+
Speaking to CNN, US-based LGBTQ+ Afghan creator Nemat Sadat stated Afghanistan’s homosexual, lesbian and transgender residents had helped the nation’s cultural life flourish in the final 20 years.
“(Transgender people) dominated the makeup industry and worked as makeup artists … There were concerts and fashion shows and all of this was dominated by the LGBTQ community,” CNN quoted him as saying.
Nemat Sadat is amongst many LGBTQ+ activists who’re amassing help and help for the community residing in Afghanistan and in search of their evacuation from the nation.
In a sequence of tweets, Nemat Sadat stated, “For the past two decades, LGBTQ+ Afghans have risked it all to legitimize the democratic experiment and usher social progress in Afghanistan, even though they were themselves criminalized under the law and benefited the least from the billions in aid that flowed into the country.”
“When Kabul fell and the Taliban took over, the incremental gains that LGBTQ+ Afghans had made reversed overnight and now they also face an imminent threat of extermination under Sharia law,” he stated.
“Does the US and international community want to be remembered for abandoning our LGBTQ+ brothers and sisters in Afghanistan to the world’s most tyrannical terrorists or rescue the lives of the most vulnerable people, in the most dangerous country right now?” Nemat Sadat added.
Trouble in evacuation
Hilal, the LGBTQ+ activist, stated he felt livid on the US authorities and different Western international locations for abandoning him and members of the community.
“Journalists, women’s rights activists or those who worked with foreigners, they were removed … but nothing has been done for us,” he informed CNN.
Kimahli Powell, govt director of the NGO Rainbow Railroad which helps LGBTQ+ individuals around the globe escape persecution, informed CNN that evacuation of LGBTQ+ members in Afghanistan was particularly laborious because the community members had been in hiding and unable to contact one another.
Taliban fighters stand guard on the Kabul airport. (Photo: Reuters)
“Many of the evacuations have been families or large communities, and that’s been harder for LGBTQ communities,” CNN quoted him as saying.
Some LGBTQ+ members additionally fell sufferer to on-line scams that supplied them a secure route in a foreign country, Kimahli Powell stated.
“(It’s uncertain) what the Taliban takeover looks like around access to borders and access to migration, but we’re committed to trying to find pathways to keep people safe and get people out,” CNN quoted Powell as saying.
(With inputs from CNN, BBC)