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Queer Afghans cry for help under Taliban rule, citing private prisons, torture & death

The LGBTQ+ Afghan activists accuse the UN and the world of remaining silent as they face a "widespread and systematic crime against humanity."

An LGBTQ+ rights group in Afghanistan is calling the international community’s acceptance of Taliban rule a “betrayal of humanity” and is demanding justice for queer people from the United Nations, human rights organizations, and countries that “claim to support human rights.”

Rainbow Afghanistan details a litany of abuses against the queer community by the Taliban, which returned to power two years ago as American forces withdrew from the country 20 years after the 9/11/2001 attacks.

The Taliban instituted an immediate return to Sharia law as they regained control of the country in 2021.

“For homosexuals,” a Taliban judge said at the time, “there can only be two punishments: either stoning, or he must stand behind a wall that will fall down on him.”

Since then, members of the LGBTQ+ community have been mysteriously killed or disappeared, arrested, “tortured and sexually assaulted in prisons, and many were stoned to death in distant provinces and, in the worst case, sexually exploited,” the letter details, while “a large number of members of the LGBT community lost their lives due to suicide,” including lesbians and transgender women who have been “forced into marriage” against their will.

“The world has remained silent” in the face of “widespread and systematic crime against humanity,” the letter from Rainbow Afghanistan declares. “The eyes and ears of the world are not willing to see and hear.”

The group documents the abduction of at least ten members of their own organization at the hands of the Taliban, and describes the existence of “private prisons for members of the LGBT community in large provinces in parts of Afghanistan.”

“According to our findings, at least two transgender individuals under the age of 19 were transferred to one of these prisons after being identified by the Taliban in Herat, where they were tortured and raped.”

The group also describes a dangerous exodus of LGBTQ+ people from Afghanistan into neighboring countries like Pakistan, Iran, and Turkey, where they’re subject to similar abuse at the hands of authorities.

“The suffocating political conditions and the criminalization of non-binary tendencies and identities in these countries have exposed them to the threat of deportation” back to Afghanistan.

The group is demanding action from the United Nations and others.

“We want the countless crimes of the Taliban against the LGBTQ community in Afghanistan to be investigated and documented, and its perpetrators should be held accountable in independent courts, and human rights, as stated in its charter, should not be limited to geographic boundaries, gender identities, and certain social groups,” the organization wrote of the U.N.

“We, the activists, ask the United Nations, human rights organizations, and countries of the world to break this annoying silence towards the LGBT community. We want to end the silence of the international community regarding these tragedies as soon as possible. We want justice for the LGBT community of Afghanistan to be raised and realized.”


LGBTQ Nation, 2023


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