Taliban 'destroying lives' of LGBTQ+ people in Afghanistan: Report

WION Web Team
Kabul, Afghanistan Updated: Jan 26, 2022, 03:54 PM(IST)

Even prior to the Taliban's return to power, LGBT people reported a number of abuses because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Yet, as soon as the Taliban, who had ruled the country from 1996 to 2001, regained control, the situation dramatically worsened. Photograph:( AFP )

Story highlights

Taliban members are alleged to have threatened or attacked many people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

A new survey shows that under Taliban rule, the lives of LGBTQ+ people have deteriorated radically. The survey cites cases of gang rape, violence and death threats since the Taliban came to power.

In the 43-page report titled "Even If You Go to the Skies, We’ll Find You’: LGBT People in Afghanistan After the Taliban Takeover," Human Rights Watch (HRW) and OutRight Action International have documented nearly 60 incidents of targeted violence against LGBTQ+ people since August 2021, with many people describing how their lives were destroyed under Taliban rule.

Due to systematic abuses of power and virulent anti-LGBT sentiment, Taliban officials and their supporters have committed crimes against LGBT people with impunity.

Also read | Taliban delegation begins humanitarian talks in Oslo

Taliban members are alleged to have threatened or attacked many people because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. 

Others reported being abused by family members, neighbours, and romantic partners who now support the Taliban or felt compelled to act against LGBT to protect themselves from the group.

Many fled their homes in response to attacks by Taliban members or supporters. 

“We spoke with LGBT Afghans who have survived gang rape, mob attacks, or have been hunted by their own family members who joined the Taliban, and they have no hope that state institutions will protect them,” said J. Lester Feder, senior fellow for emergency research at OutRight Action International. 

“For those LGBT people who want to flee the country, there are few good options; most of Afghanistan's neighbors also criminalize same-sex relations. It is difficult to overstate how devastating – and terrifying – the return of Taliban rule has been for LGBT Afghans.”

Also read | Taliban warn against women's rights activism after two activists were seized from their homes

Afghanistan has been a dangerous place for LGBT people long before the Taliban took control of the country in August 2021. 

Even prior to the Taliban's return to power, LGBT people reported a number of abuses because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. 

The country's then-President Ashraf Ghani enacted a law in 2018 that criminalized same-sex sexual relations, and its previous penal code included vague language that was widely interpreted as criminalising same-sex relations. 

Yet, as soon as the Taliban, who had ruled the country from 1996 to 2001, regained control, the situation dramatically worsened. Some Taliban leaders vowed to take a hard line against LGBT rights, reaffirming the previous government's criminalisation of same-sex relationships. 

"LGBT... That is against Sharia [Islamic] law," a Taliban spokesperson stated to Reuters in October.

“Things were always rough,” said Heather Barr, associate director of the women’s rights division at HRW. “But people had found ways to survive and build community and support each other, and they had hope that things were gradually improving. On 15 August, all of that ended.”

Watch | Gravitas: Taliban begins talks with Western Officials in Oslo

Just before the Taliban captured Kabul, a Taliban judge told the German tabloid Bild, “For homosexuals, there can only be two punishments: either stoning, or he must stand behind a wall that will fall down on him.”

Taliban Ministry of Vice and Virtue manuals from 2020 state that religious leaders should prohibit same-sex relationships, and "strong allegations" should be brought to the ministry's district manager for investigation and punishment. 

Read in App