Photo by Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona

The LGBTQ community’s adversity in Afghanistan

In distress, many Afghan citizens are attempting to escape the Taliban’s grip. While numerous are fearing for their lives, a specific group is more prone to persecution: the LGBTQ+ community.

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One of these members, a gay Afghan teacher, wrote his experiences during the terrorist group’s first days of control.

“The Taliban were everywhere, all holding guns. I took some pictures of them and how they looked at people, even those whose cases had been approved and who were carrying the correct documents,” the teacher wrote.

The anonymous correspondent sent his journal entries to Openly News, an initiative by Thomas Reuters Foundation to help recognize LGBTQ+ hardships. His entries all follow the same pattern: dread and a feeling of solitude as his paranoia of the Taliban grew deeper.

On Aug. 25, 2021, an organization attempted to assist the narrator in traveling safely abroad.

“If they had caught me taking their photograph, they could have shot me, and they really looked like they were ready to do it. I visited the other gates, but I couldn’t get through to the airport,” he journaled. “But I couldn’t go back home because I didn’t want to lose the chance of getting on a flight, so I wandered around the airport perimeter all night long until, finally, I received another email.”

The second email directed him to a particular place, where a bus could get him inside the Hamid Karzai International Airport.

He wrote, “I stayed there for almost three ho urs, but no bus was booked for so early in the morning. I cannot explain how exhausted I was. All around me I could see women, girls, children sleeping on the streets. Since washrooms were unavailable, they had to pee near the places they slept, ate and stayed, while waiting for this bus to take them inside the airport. The way the Taliban treat people is inferior to how one might treat a wild animal.”

Soon after, one of his foreign friends called him, notifying him about another bus heading for the airport. He quickly seized his next opportunity. When he got on, he noticed that all of the passengers were terrified. Once they reached the airport, dozens of people outside the bus were yelling and screaming at the LGBTQ+ group. The narrator realized there was no way he could make it to the airport in such distress, so he left.

Then, on Aug. 30, 2021, he lost any chance of being able to leave Afghanistan.

“The evacuation of Afghan people has come to an end. Afghan LGBT+ people have been abandoned and it is clear that no countries care about us,” he wrote. “The Taliban have taken control of most of Hamid Karzai International Airport and they were waiting for the last American military personnel to leave so that they could celebrate their success because America had announced at midnight that the airport would be free from their control.”

He started hiding in one of his relatives’ homes, away from the discrimination and possible persecution that awaited him.

“I woke this morning to a message from the organization trying to help me. They sent me a web link to the story of a gay man raped and beaten by the Taliban,” the teacher journaled. “The stress of being punished by the Taliban is eating me up. Even those of us still living in Kabul cannot guess what is going to happen five minutes from now.”

His journal entries — which lasted from Aug. 25, 2021, to Sept. 1, 2021 — brought awareness to the harsh living conditions of not only the Afghan people but their LGBTQ+ counterparts as well.

Nemat Sadat, an Afghan-born gay activist and American citizen, echoed his beliefs on the takeover of Afghanistan.

“The Taliban will impose a ‘bait, kill and dump’ policy,” Sadat said to Pink News. “That is, they will appoint informants to lure gay and bisexual men online and in public spaces and take them to a secluded spot and kill them and dispose of their bodies.”

Sadat proposed that all western civilizations should help LGBTQ+ members resettle safely abroad. He dismally doubts that they will be able to save everyone.

Stories about LGBTQ+ members being killed and persecuted by the Taliban have increased in numbers exponentially.

Earlier this week, ITV reported on an incident where a gay man was raped and beaten by the Taliban. The incident was one of many that have been happening across Afghanistan.

The victim — whose name is confidential in hopes of keeping his identity secret — met two Taliban militants after they tricked him into believing they could help him escape the country.

After three weeks of conversing, the victim decided to meet the militants in Kabul, where he was assaulted and raped.

Mr Akbary, who now lives in Turkey, has said: “[The Taliban] are trying to tell the world ‘we are changed and we don’t have problems with women’s rights or human rights.’ They are lying.”

“The Taliban hasn’t changed, because their ideology hasn’t changed.

“My friends in Afghanistan are scared, they don’t know what will happen to them in the future so they’re just trying to hide.”

Photo by Matt Brown

The US Department of State’s website, titled “Afghanistan Inquiries,” goes over the United States’ plan to use “every diplomatic, economic, political, and assistance tool at our disposal to uphold the basic rights of all Afghans,” as they addressed in a statement earlier this month.

Around 98 countries have offered to help Afghanistan refugees, including, but not limited to, the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, and India.

However, for them to seek refuge within these countries, they must first leave Afghanistan — which, for the time being, seems like an impossible task.

During an interview with Bild — a widely known German newspaper — a Taliban judge named Gul Rahim went into graphic detail about how the group punishes LGBTQ+ individuals.

“There are only two penalties for gays: Either stoning or he has to stand behind a wall that falls on him. The wall must be 2.5 to 3 meters high,” the judge told Bild.

The punishment for something as simplistic as your sexuality proves just how far the Taliban are willing to go to strengthen their ideals. The extremist group has been upholding these punishments for decades, persecuting every gay individual they come across.

An interview published by Attitude, a primarily gay British magazine, goes over this exact issue. The publication interviewed a young man from Afghanistan, Ahmadullah, and his boyfriend’s fatal encounter with the Taliban.

“First, they took him out of his house, beat him and beheaded him,” he told Attitude. “The Taliban said this is what we do to LGBT+, to set an example”.

“He was my world. We met in uni first semester. We were just classmates and then best friends, because everything was so common between us — music taste, favourite food, favourite movie, everything,” he muttered.

In the aftermath of his significant other’s death, Ahmadullah has attempted suicide twice, but each time he’s pulled away from the act, believing that a certain someone would’ve wanted him to keep going.

“We had promised each other that we will go to a foreign country for a master’s degree, and then we would get married,” he says. “We promised that we would never give up. When I tried to commit suicide, this promise keeps coming into my head.”

Ahmadulla, like many other LGBTQ+ members in Afghanistan, is on the run from the Taliban and their iron fist.

He ended the interview with a simple question that may be asked for generations: “Will I ever be free and happy like other LGBT+?”

For the Afghan people, this question remains unanswered.

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