Nearly seven months after the fall of the Western-backed Ashraf Ghani government and the shocking takeover of Afghanistan by the Taliban, the militant group continues to transform the country into a living hell for members of the LGBTQ+ community who do not conform to rigid gender and religious norms. It is pertinent to note that homosexuality was already illegal under the previous regime, however, the community still fared better when compared to today.
The 43-page Human Rights Watch report titled ‘Even If You Go to the Skies, We’ll Find You: LGBT People in Afghanistan After the Taliban Takeover’, makes these observations based on the interviews of 60 queer Afghans in late 2021. While most were still living in Afghanistan, a few had escaped to nearby countries. As per the report, there are clear evidences of the Taliban’s brutality against the LGBTQ+ community as members continue to receive death threats, and be subject to physical and mental torture, and sexual harassment.
Bilal, an Afghan citizen who identifies as gay, revealed to the Quint, “They (the Taliban) beat me up with power cables and threw cold water on me and passed electricity through it. These burns you are seeing are because of this. I passed out (from the) pain.”
Ever since the revival of the Taliban 2.0 in August 2021, the war-torn state of Afghanistan has witnessed a spike in attacks against the LGBTQ+ community, religions and ethnic minorities, and women. There are numerous reports revealing that the Taliban cadres have conducted house to house searches, detained activists, tortured dissidents and crushed the voices of the common Afghans in order to establish Sharia Law, much to the dismay of the West.
As per the HRW report, there are a myriad of reports that attest that Taliban fighters stop individuals at checkpoints for not conforming to gender norms, or for being too “Western”. Private messages on cell phones are checked for proof of gender orientation, as quoted by DW.
Instances of sexual assaults, rapes, and death threats have become regular for those belonging to the community. The Taliban, on the other hand, has not received international legitimacy as Kabul’s government, and faces a bleak future. In the eyes of the international arena audience, instances like these would continue to widen the distance between the so-called Islamic Republic of Afghanistan and the West.