New York City, US, Jan 26 (EFE).- The Afghan LGBT+ community has faced an “increasingly desperate situation” with serious safety threats since the Taliban’s return to power, Human Rights Watch said in a joint report with OutRight Action International on Wednesday.
The 43-page report titled “Even If You Go to the Skies, We’ll Find You” is based on interviews with 60 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) Afghans, residing in Afghanistan or in nearby countries and who have been attacked by the Taliban or abused by family members or neighbors who support the fundamentalists.
“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,” J. Lester Feder, senior fellow for emergency research at OutRight Action International, said in a statement.
“It is difficult to overstate how devastating – and terrifying – the return of Taliban rule has been for LGBT Afghans.”
In 2020, the Taliban’s Ministry of Vice and Virtue published a manual that states “religious leaders shall prohibit same-sex relations and that ‘strong allegations’ of homosexuality shall be referred to the ministry’s district manager for adjudication and punishment.”
A large section of the interviewees said their only path to safety was to flee Afghanistan but nearby countries, including Iran, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan, also criminalize same-sex relations.
“Only the United Kingdom has publicly announced that it has resettled a small number of LGBT Afghans,” the report said.
“The Taliban have explicitly pledged not to respect LGBT Afghans rights,” Heather Barr, associate women’s rights director at Human Rights Watch said.
“It’s critically important for concerned governments to urgently put pressure on the Taliban to respect the rights of LGBT people, ensure that assistance they provide Afghanistan reaches LGBT people, and recognize that LGBT Afghans seeking asylum face a special risk of persecution in Afghanistan and neighboring countries.” EFE