LGBTQ+ people live under unbearable conditions under the Taliban, activists warn

Activists and advocates have raised concerns about the worsening situation faced by LGBTQ+ individuals in Afghanistan under Taliban rule. They are urging the international community, including the United States, to address the urgent issue.

The activists highlight reports of escalating violence and persecution targeting the LGBTQ+ community, emphasising the critical need for support and protection.

“LGBTQ+ Afghans have faced an increasingly desperate situation and grave threats to their safety and lives since the Taliban takeover on August 15, 2021,” according to a joint report by Human Rights Watch and OutRight Action International in 2022.

Sultan Popal (not his real name), a 32-year-old gay Afghan man, has shared his story with LGBTQ Nation.

Popal was taken to a guest house by the Taliban, where he was subjected to physical assault and rape until the early hours of the morning. After managing to escape, he sought shelter at the home of a friend in the city of Mazar-i-Sharif, adopting strict measures to evade Taliban detection.

“[I] changed my [phone] number, my WhatsApp number, I changed my Facebook profile… often changing my locations,” Popal reveals.

Nemat Sadat, a gay Afghan-American activist and executive director of Roshaniya, an organisation that supports the relocation of LGBTQ+ Afghans, has shared the story of Bilal with LGBTQ Nation, a gay man who suffered brutal beatings and electrocution by the Taliban in October 2021. Sadat expressed disappointment in the lack of response from various organisations to Bilal’s pleas for help, highlighting the immediate financial assistance they provided.

“When the Taliban come to people’s homes, they ask them to hand over [their] LGBT people… a lot of families… will go ahead and murder their sons or their daughters or transgender child out of worry,” Sadat explained, shedding light on the additional dangers LGBTQ+ individuals face from their own families.