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‘They will kill me without even thinking about it’: LGBT+ community in Afghanistan forced into hiding

Many gay Afghans are now desperately seeking asylum

Helen Elfer
Saturday 21 August 2021 21:14 BST
Afghan filmmaker films herself running away from Taliban in Kabul

Members of Afghanistan’s gay community have described their terror of living under Taliban rule, as the threat of being found out and put to death is a constant fear.

Rameen* told Insider that his life had become a “nightmare” since the Taliban took power on Sunday. “I just hope that somebody comes and wakes me up from this bad dream,” he said.

The United Nations worker, 37, said that until last week, homosexuality had been illegal but there was still a vibrant underground gay scene in Kabul which had felt relatively safe. “It was fantastic and so much fun,” he said.

Now he can’t even risk meeting his boyfriend of three years: “If the Taliban finds out about us, they’ll sentence us to death,” he said. “I think we will have to stop our relationship.”

Many gay Afghans are now desperately seeking asylum from the hardline regime.

In July, German newspaper Bild reported that a Taliban judge had vowed to sentence gay men to particularly cruel deaths by stoning or by being crushed by a 3-metre wall.

Nemat Sadat is a US-based advocate for LGBT+ rights, and is helping gay Afghans apply for asylum. He organised an LGBT+ rights movement in Afghanistan while working as a political science professor at the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul.

Mr Sadat was forced to leave the country in 2013 after receiving death threats, and is now urging the international community to help vulnerable people escape almost certain persecution.

“It’s not hyperbolic to say that gay people will get weeded out and exterminated by the Taliban, just like the Nazis did,” he said. “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.”

Canada plans to resettle more than 20,000 Afghans, prioritising minorities, female activists and those from the LGBTQ community. The US is predicted to take in fewer than 10,000 refugees this year.

*the names of gay Afghans still inside the country have been changed to protect their identities

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