Hiding emotions, faking real identity, and being under the constant reign of terror of harassment is a daily routine for an Afghan Queer.
Before the Taliban Takeover
All forms of same-sex activities are considered illegal according to Sharia Law. The Quran doesn’t tell about a penalty for homosexuality but it is set at the highest degree i.e death penalty in the country.
Did you know? Babur, the Mughal Ruler was never interested in women and the only time he was left infatuated was his encounter with a young boy at a bazaar? So, barring ubiquitous perception, Islam has been tolerant towards homosexuality in the past to some extent.
There is absolutely no recognition for same-sex relationships, civil unions or domestic partnerships with regard to the Afghanistan Family laws. It is expected that some of the other party or political group would raise their voice and be humane enough to encourage such a practice; however, no interest group has shown any signs of support for the repressed community. Anything that goes against Islamic morality is prohibited, so social groups are never able to advocate rights.
In the social domain too, not much is said or done about it. The misconceptions are so widespread that homosexuality is linked with prostitution and paedophilia (an adult being sexually attracted to or indulging in sexual activities with a minor). Paedophilia in theory is nowhere near to homosexuality and is rather considered a disorder by the DSM-5.
Even though laws were strict, bacha bazi was quite prevalent. Men in the army didn’t have access to women so they would kidnap and rape boys, say 2007 reports.
Surprisingly in 2011 after several interviews, it was found out that people had no idea the rainbow symbol is used in support of the community. People started pulling them off their vehicles (stickers and flags) to refrain from being seen as allies. The infamous case of the first Afghan openly gay, Neemat Sadat, a human rights activist was believed to revolutionize the norms and help uplift the community however he left Afghanistan(2012) and settled in New York. He became a victim of widespread hostility and said, “I am making a sacrifice, but I want Afghan youth to look at me and see that there are people who are Afghan and Muslim and gay. It will give them hope.”
Following the Fall of Kabul, he went vocal that the Taliban is a direct threat to gay men and the international community should step in to help the vulnerable.
He is also trying to arrange an airlift. He contacted a congressman’s office and said ‘I have a list of 50 people in Kabul of LGBT people who have said please help me. They are the most urgent that need to get out on the next flight’.
Under the Taliban
The people believe that the Taliban will mean the end of them. They have the viewpoint that earlier there was imprisonment, now they will be shot dead on the spot. VICE wrote a report and mentioned that a fellow Afghan gay said, “I never saw those killings myself. But I read reports and heard people talk about it. Even now, I have not told a single Afghan that I’m gay. I know they will tell the Taliban, and that will be the end of me.”
Sadat spoke to the INSIDER and said “It’s not hyperbolic to say that gay people will get weeded out and exterminated by the Taliban, just like the Nazis did. People are messaging me saying “here’s my passport, here’s all my information, please get me out of this country, I’m going to die.”
Many people have spoken to Afghanis and are continuing to protect their identity while equally propagating their plight and the need for action. Nabi (now living in Germany) who fled the country with his sister claiming the Taliban wanted to stone her says that it was hard being a homosexual in his homeland. He is now free but feels remorse for the ones left behind. He says the Taliban slaughtered gay men like animals.
A slaughter story popped up on 25th August- A 26-year old man’s boyfriend’s body was cut by the Taliban as a demonstration of what they will do to gay people. Heartbroken and grief-stricken he told the British government that ‘I don’t want them to kill me like they killed my boyfriend’ over a zoom call.
The Taliban spokesperson hasn’t said much about it. However, the situation of Afghanis, the LGBTQIA+, the women, the children and the men, all seems to be going downhill.
Everyone is desperate to escape the rigid regime, yet only a few are able to. It is truly a horrible and gruesome episode that Afghanistan is going through. The Taliban’s conquest has surely sent Afghanistan back to adverse conservative times.