A gay man from Afghanistan said he was burned by the Taliban. He now lives in hiding out of concern for his safety and said he’s been surprised at the lack of support for LGBTQ+ Afghans by the international LGBTQ+ community.
The man, Sohil, told PinkNews that he’s been “living in the shadows” since the Taliban took control over the country in August.
“Imagine you have all the great hopes for your life, you have everything, and then one day you wake up and everything is gone,” he said. “I lost my university, I lost my life, I lost my community. Even the boys I was in contact with, they are all living in the shadows. They are all hiding themselves.”
Sohil said the Taliban took away his normal life. He was in medical school and had hoped to be able to leave Afghanistan. He told the website that he had to flee his home due to his human rights activism.
“I live like a prisoner. I was living in my own house with my family. After the Taliban attacked me, I couldn’t live in my house because they would recognize my face and they knew who I am,” Sohil explained. “Now I am living in a different home. My family doesn’t know about my sexuality. If I tell them I will lose their support too.”
Sohil is only one of the many LGBTQ+ Afghans who have voiced their fears of the Taliban’s return. Queer people in the country have told media they hope to find a way to escape the Taliban’s new rule. While homosexuality was still punishable by death in the years since the Taliban fell, the punishment hadn’t been applied since 2001. During the Taliban’s rule in the 1990s, gay men were sentenced to death in Kabul, Kandahar, Herat, and elsewhere in the country.
There has already been reporting of gay men being killed by the Taliban over their sexual orientation.
Recently, Sohil went to get a passport and a copy of his birth certificate. When Sohil arrived at the office, wearing jeans and a T-shirt, he said a Taliban member grabbed his hand.
“He asked me: ‘What are you doing here?’ I said: ‘I have come for my birth certificate.’ He said: ‘Why are you wearing that T-shirt? You’re wearing western clothes.’ I said: ‘It’s just normal clothes, everyone wears it.’ I knew that it wasn’t about my clothes. I know that he somehow had identified that I am not straight.”
Sohil told PinkNews that the man took Sohil to his office and interrogated him about being there. Sohil said that the man and two others beat him before one of them pour a teapot of water on him.
He managed to leave the office, but he said that he’s now terrified of life under the Taliban. Sohil said he was frustrated with the fading support from the international community.
“We don’t know if we will be alive tomorrow or not,” Sohil said. “I think the whole world doesn’t think about that. I think our own LGBT+ community doesn’t think about that. In two months, no one contacted me… I had a hope that our LGBT+ community will help us but day by day, I am losing my hope. I don’t know what to do. I hoped that our LGBT+ community will help us, but there is no one standing for us. I used to stand for my guys in Afghanistan, now I want them to stand for us.”
“I am totally shocked, I had hoped the LGBTQ community will help us, they will listen to our voice, but they are totally gone. No one is listening, no one is looking out for us,” Sohil added. “In this time we need the most help, there is no one. I don’t know why, do people just forget about us?”