A year after the Taliban took control over Afghanistan, women’s rights have been eroded and queer people have faced threats to their safety and lives with many reporting being attacked, sexually assaulted or threatened due to their sexual orientation and gender identity.
Trigger Warning: This story discusses violence against LGBTQI people, which might be distressing to some readers. For 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.
On August 15, 2021 the Taliban seized Kabul. Many LGBTQI Afghans have fled their homes after finding themselves at risk from being targeted by Taliban members.
A gay man from Afghanistan, Imran Khan escaped from his home country with a group of fellow LGBTQI+ and intersex Afghans eleven days after the Taliban took control.
Khan told the Los Angeles Blade, that the group passed through Taliban checkpoints with the help of a mullah they were traveling with who had said they were going to their cousin’s house for a child’s funeral.
Though he remained in Kabul until August 30 last year, when the last American forces had withdrawn from the country, German group Kabul Luftbrücke, evacuated him to Pakistan. Khan currently resides in Korbach while his partner remains in Afghanistan.
Forced to watch the execution of his father
Ahmad (name changed), another gay Afghan, who escaped the Taliban, told Pink News about his experience after being forced to watch his father being murdered in front of him by Taliban members when he was a child.
Ahmad sought help through the Aman Project, an organisation that advocates for queer individuals and refugees in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region where he connected with non-binary author and Aman Project volunteer, Tess Berry-Hart.
They were able to get him on the evacuation list and was flown to the UK. Ahmad spoke about the “very homophobic” culture in Afghanistan, stating that the “trauma and the self-censorship was so strong.” A year later, Ahmad has been able to go to gay bars and feel more comfortable in who he is, without fearing persecution.
Afghan man turned back eight times
Bisexual Afghan man Basir was turned away from Kabul airport eight times until he travelled to another city to flee Afghanistan, after being beaten by the Taliban. With his family, they flew to Pakistan and waited for his Canadian visa before relocating in October of 2021.
Basir described his experiences to Pink News, stating that his whole family continued to struggle with “mental hardship”, where the emotional toll had continued despite relocating to Canada.
He stated that he would “talk about LGBTQ” issues and experiences with courage in Canada, even if “deep traumas” of the arrival persisted.
A report by Human Rights Watch titled, “Even If You Go to the Skies, We’ll Find You”, found that many LGBTQI people feared of their safety, had changed their phone numbers, cut off contact with others in the community resulting in further isolation. Many had also experienced sexual assault, threats, violence, forced marriages, being outed and blackmailed under the Taliban rule.
In 2021, a Taliban judge spoke to German tabloid Bild, affirming their violently homophobic stance, stating, “For homosexuals, there can only be two punishments: either stoning, or he must stand behind a wall that will fall down on him.”
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