Social Issues

Shunned by law and society, Afghanistan’s LGBT community calls for help

Kabul, Jun 28 (EFE).- Rejected by both law and the society, Afghanistan’s LGBT people have been facing a deeper crisis with the Taliban seizing power and implementing a strict form of Islamic Sharia law that lays down the death penalty for the members of the community.

Although the oppressed identities have always been a taboo in the country, where the earlier government had also continued to punish same-sex relations, the fear has grown with the Taliban, who crack down hard on those transgressing their harsh social norms.

The punishment depends on the situation: “if a person is raped, the subject will receive severe punishment such as execution by hanging. If both agree and they are homosexual and both were to blame equally, they will be hung from pillars, stoned, thrown from hills or their throats would be slit, apart from imprisonment,” Kabul court spokesperson Abul Yousuf told EFE

Afghan society is a traditional one where sexual relations between people of the same sex are criminalized the law as well as being rejected by the society and their families.

“The LGBTs do not have and have never had any rights, they are not recognized as a part of the society and are living in a very bad situation. If a family finds out that a member is LGBT they will be the first to oppress and torture them, thinking that they are deviant or mad,” a member of the community told EFE on the condition of anonymity.

This lack of support makes life difficult for the community in all spheres and prevents them from raising their voice against injustice.

“My life was full of bad thoughts. No one ever befriended me, and they avoided me at the university, classes, and school. I have many bad memories,” the person said.

One of his worst memories dates back to the teenage, “when I was raped by four people. (…) I knew if I make a police report they will make me seem more ridiculous, or if I told my family they could have brought an even worse disaster on me, so I buried it in my heart, I did not raise my voice,” he added.

Another practice that prevails in the Afghan society despite being held illegal is Bacha Bazi, where pre-adolescent children dance and entertain a group of men, often during large gathering or weddings, which often results in them being sexually abused.

“In most cases same-sex sexual relationships between the dancing boys and older men are common,” Arif Kakar, an expert in Afghan society, told EFE.

Hailing from underprivilege families, these children are lured by upper class men into entertaining them in an activity that involves abuse and violation of the minor’s rights.

It is only when the boys reach mental and physical maturity and start developing masculine attributes such as beards, that their “owners” release them, but “the psychological damage caused by years of sexual abuse and social isolation makes it difficult for them to reintegrate into the society.”

One of the victims of this practice told EFE, without revealing his name, that immaturity and family poverty were the main reasons that led to children like him approaching powerful men, who he blamed for not supporting them.

Regarding bisexuals, the Taliban government holds that as long as they do not carry out “any taboo activity,” they can be part of the society and “enjoy the same rights as other people,” according to Mohammad Sadiq Akif, the spokesperson of the ministry of propagation of virtue and prevention of vice, who talked to EFE.

LGBT rights activists have flagged the deteriorating situation of the community in Afghanistan since the Taliban seized power in August 2021, with its members forced to live in the fear of death, and many being forced to flee abroad.

“I call on the international community, that we are also human and don’t forget us, especially countries such as Germany, France, Britain, Canada, and the United States, who made promises, but unfortunately have not yet fulfilled them. After the Ukraine case, Afghanistan’s LGBT people have been forgotten,” Afghan activist Shahriar Mandegar told EFE.


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