Until now, the LGBT community in Afghanistan has been secretly turned a blind eye. Due to the takeover by the Taliban, however, feelings of love must once again be locked up. In fact, anyone caught with a same-sex partner risks another execution. The American news website ‘Business Insider’ searched and found some testimonials from those involved on the spot. “My life has become a nightmare”, says Rameen(*).
Homosexuality is officially banned in Afghanistan. Still, the 37-year-old UN employee was able to enjoy himself every week in a karaoke bar in Kabul. Kindred spirits congregated there on the sly, which made Rameen feel relatively safe. “It was fantastic, I had a lot of fun,” he says.
Now Rameen is too scared to meet up with his friend. “If the Taliban find out, they will sentence us to death. I’m afraid there’s nothing for it but to end the relationship.”
“Don’t dare go out”
Ghulam(*) is in the same boat as a 21-year-old student. “I don’t dare to go out anymore. I see no future here. If I got a visa, I would have left for another country long ago.”
Sayed, a 36-year-old Afghan from the northern province of Balkh, saw the situation change dramatically in just a week. “I used to be able to see my partner in real life without any shame, now that’s no longer the case. As soon as they know I’m gay, I’ll be killed unceremoniously.”
In theory, homosexuality still carries the death penalty, but since the end of the first Taliban regime in 2001, the cruel practice has not been practiced. That is now about to change. According to ‘Bild’, a Sharia judge made it clear last month that he would have gays stoned to death.
Nemat Sadat worked for a long time as a political science professor at the university in Kabul. He was the first figure to publicly champion LGBTQ rights in Afghanistan. After several death threats and even a fatwa, he fled to the United States in 2013.
Now Sadat is calling on the international community to act quickly. “When I say gays will be slaughtered, it’s not an exaggeration. I now get one message after another: people are sending their passports and begging me to take them out of Afghanistan.”
Hamid Zaher (47) was one of the first Afghan men who dared to come out in public. In 2001 he left his native country. After a stopover in Turkey, he was granted asylum in Canada seven years later. “Even though our administration has received US support for the past two decades, it was no laughing matter to be gay in Afghanistan. For example, those people still risked being beaten or ending up in jail. Now, however, certain death would await them.”
“Cries of Despair”
Najib Faizi (21) likes to call herself the first drag queen with Afghan roots. At the age of ten, he moved to Germany with his older sister. “I can do what I want here, but I certainly don’t take that freedom for granted.”
Due to his activism and striking presence on social media, he is in the spotlight. “I am often threatened with death. Last week, however, I mainly received cries of despair from people who hope that they can live as carefree as I do one day. Those people need help, but everyone is abandoning them.”
The only exception seems to be Canada for now. That country wants to receive more than 20,000 Afghans, with a special focus on minority groups. In addition to women activists, among others, members of the LGBTQ community are also more than welcome.
(*)Witnesses’ names have been changed to protect their identities