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In-Depth: LGBTQ+ members stuck in Afghanistan facing rape, torture after Taliban takeover ask U.S. for help

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Posted at 11:31 PM, Jan 31, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-01 00:59:42-05

Afghan LGBTQ members are speaking out and you can hear the desperation in their voices and messages.

Through group messages, 25 News has spoken to over 15 people. Their stories are very similar.

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Afghan LGBTQ person speaks with about hiding from the Taliban and his family.

One man told 25 News over Zoom that he's in hiding.

"I'm even hiding from my family my friends and everyone," he said.

He doesn't want to share his name or show his face out of fear of the Taliban.

According to a 42 page Human Right Watch report, the Taliban is touching the LGBTQ community. At this point staying is not a choice and many have been kicked out of their homes.

"I was 18 years old when I knew I was gay in this society they never excepted us," he said.

He tells us that he's in hiding with little to eat and in fear. Many report that the Taliban will stop them because of their short beards. Human Right Watch believes around a thousand members are in high danger.

Begging for help

Atavistic Nemat Sadat is from Afghanistan and one of the first to come out as LGBTQ. He now lives in the United States and has a list of nearly 800 that are in need of being rescued.

Nemat said he has been in contact with the state department.

"What I am hearing from the state department is that there are negations that are happening. Between us and the Taliban," said Nemat.

He admits that there are tens of thousands of LGBTQ Afghans but just a handful fully out.

"The total amount that are high risk is about a thousand LGBTQ people, and I think that would be a good start," said Nemat.

Nemat says that in Afghanistan in the last two years many started to embrace their sexuality and gender change. Many of those who are in their 20's really don't know Afghanistan without America in the forefront.

Before the fall many of these members were in Afghanistan Universities. Many now are alone hiding in rooms and on the move.

LGBTQ now going to media outlets asking for help.

When the Taliban took over Advocates and lawmakers urged the state department to include LGBTQ Afghans the request went unanswered.

Only Canada, the United Kingdom, and Ireland have said they would commit to resettling LGBTQ Afghans.

Threats through Technology and Social Media

Like all young people, social media is a huge part of this community's life. For many TikTok, Instagram, and Facebook was an outlet for them to connect. Now the Taliban is making threats.

Sajjad G., a 21-year-old gay man in one of Afghanistan’s major cities, posted videos of himself dancing on TikTok; he also worked as a model and appeared in music videos online. About a week before the fall of the Afghan government, he said, a man messaged him from a Facebook account with pictures of the Taliban flag and guns and demanded he have sex with him, threatening to kill Sajjad if he refused.

Human Rights Group

Many have deleted their accounts. The Taliban will stop people and go through their phones according to the several we spoke to with. If they find anything that relative to the LGBTQ community they face beatings, rape, and even death.

Access to Jobs and Commerce

Many LGBT people still in Afghanistan aren't facing direct violence, but are not being able to make a living or even go to a store. Many people of all identities have no access to their bank accounts. Some tell us that they eat once a day.

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Taliban leader Mullah Nooruddin Turabi poses for a photo in Kabul, Afghanistan, Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2021. Mullah Turabi, one of the founders of the Taliban, says the hard-line movement will once again carry out punishments like executions and amputations of hands, though perhaps not in public.

Dangerous Journey

Some have been able to make it to neighboring countries. It's a little safer, but many of those countries are also against LGBTQ. If you have a visa or passport you must go through a lot of Taliban checkpoints.

To help with the journey the Human Rights Group is asking concerned governments, including the United States and other parties to join the 2001-2021 Afghan conflict.

  • Use any diplomatic leverage to press the Taliban to recognize the rights of everyone in Afghanistan, including LGBT people.
  • Recognize that LGBT Afghans face a special risk of persecution in Afghanistan and neighboring countries and expedite their applications for evacuation and resettlement. 
  • Support and facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance to Afghans in need, and support organizations providing humanitarian assistance, including programs specifically designed to assist LGBT Afghans.
  • Ensure that support to organizations working in Afghanistan is directed to organizations that commit to gender-sensitive programming, nondiscrimination, and inclusion of LGBT beneficiaries.
  • In engagements with formal and informal civil society groups in Afghanistan, including human rights organizations, women’s rights and feminist organizations, and organizations focused on health, education, or youth, raise concerns about abuses against LGBT Afghans and urge such groups to be inclusive of LGBT Afghans.
  • Engage with civil society organizations directly or indirectly addressing LGBT issues in Afghanistan, informal groupings of LGBT people, and community leaders who are well networked within LGBT communities to best help them protect their rights.