–Very few Afghan gay men have gotten out.
–This is a round up of Afghan gay interviewed by western journalists.
–Those few speaking for Afghan LGBTQ say it’s bad and getting worse.
–Only the Canadians included LGBTQ Afghans in evacuation and visa programs.
–The US has avoided any statement about elevated risk .
–Only American collaborators and journalists are higher risk profile. All have allies and protectors in and out of the country
–Taliban have modified stance on women with world pressure. They’ve not said anything about LGBTQ
— Our silence sends the Taliban a clear message to proceed with the terror.
Note: All subjects identify as Afghan gay men. There are of course lesbians and trans and bisexual people whose existence is as threatened. They have not been interviewed in reports we have found so far. Only Nemat Sadat, Artemis Akbary, and Tim Shipman are real names in this post. All others have been changed to protect
“They will find me because they keep looking for interpreters and people who are gay. This is my fifth location. I don’t know where to go.” –Gabir
- Taliban are going door-to-door looking for journalists, interpreters and LGBTQ+ people.
- Airlift Evacuation Is Done
- Here’s what we’ve found. It’s not a pretty picture.
- A Best Friend’s Suicide
- Family Will Beat Him if Find Out. An Arranged Marriage if not.
- For Two Young Afghan gay men, Plans B, C…
- US Special Forces Sniper Witnessed Taliban Killings
- Many Afghan gay men are Hiding. ‘Of course, I will risk everything to get out.
- ‘What Can We do? We’re going to get exterminated’
- Boyfriend Killed and Chopped; Now Taliban is Calling Him
- Raped, Beaten, Outed to Family
- Taliban Use Social Media to Lure gay men
- Ahmadulla Goes Into Hiding
- Any Allies? Very Few Stand with Afghan gay men
- Afghan Gay men previously on Towleroad
Taliban are going door-to-door looking for journalists, interpreters and LGBTQ+ people.
The longest war the US has ever been in was not won by US. We are hard pressed to explain the amoral economic drivers and it’s obvious the way it is ending is far from graceful or humane. Most Americans agree it is time to leave. As they learn more about what was left and what we left and what seems obvious to those on the ground, it’s already clear our exit was far from well planned , human or graceful.
As Nemat Sadat, a Afghan American novelist and LGBTQ activist in the UnitesStates told CBC two days ago
“Americans are rejoicing saying that this is the end of the war, but the war has just started for Afghans,” he said. “I feel like the LGBTQ+ community has the most to lose.”
Sadat says he’s heard from contacts back home that the Taliban are going door-to-door looking for journalists, interpreters and LGBTQ+ people.CBC
Airlift Evacuation Is Done
Over the last few days, flights slowed and stopped. The big countries have announced that their refugee efforts are done (after evacuating more than 120,000 people), and that includes the only one to explicitly include LGBTQ refugees, Canada. That the reality sinking in– that the best and quickest chances to get out of the country have eluded many of the most at- risk people– may be why we’re getting some real bits of news from Afghan gay men in Kabul and elsewhere and. we are hearing some terrifying details.
Only interpreters, other American collaborators and journalists come close to or surpass the risk profile of gay people in Afghanistan. The others have allies and protectors internally and outside the country. Gay men are likely to be turned in by their families. The Taliban pursue them with a thrill and excitement that is described by many. of these men Afghan gay men as sexualized, politicized, gamified and religious, with video-game style tracking and chases, and either the most summary or most brutal and ceremonial executions.
Here’s what we’ve found. It’s not a pretty picture.
A Best Friend’s Suicide
Daily Mail spoke with a gay man in Kabul, heavily disguised in the video below with intense predictions about what is to come for Afghan gay men folks in Kabul, saying the Taliban will take pleasure in hunting them down.
Family Will Beat Him if Find Out. An Arranged Marriage if not.
Aziz interviewed by I News in UK described his week.
He’s turned 21, ended his schooling just short of the degree he’s worked for. His gay friends are not answering calls, his boyfriend is hiding out in another town and he doesn’t know if they will see each other ever again.
If seized, his phone would reveal all in WhatApp messages, songs, and his Facebook chats –that he is gay, has a boyfriend.
Women are scared of being shut in their homes en masse, where a fighter prepared to beat, rape or kill them could come knocking at the door; interpreters are worried about reprisal killings for helping the West; LGBT people know they could be murdered for their sexuality.Aziz
Aziz is not out to his family, saying “they would beat me and throw me out of the house.” If he is able to maintain his closet and unable to get out of the country, he faces “forced marriage”.
For Two Young Afghan gay men, Plans B, C…
Towleroad has been in touch, one step removed, with a few young people . Each has good reasons to fear being exposed or reported to the Taliban. We won’t be sharing many details of their stories from the last few weeks since as of 24 hours ago when we last heard, they were not safe or even on their way.
We hope they’ll share their stories, but it sounds– though intermediaries at this point–as though it’s sinking in that this could be a much longer and more dangerous course than they’d hoped for even a week ago.
They’re making other plans and taking additional precautions.
And those who have loosely organized to support them–like the other loosely organized groups supporting others — are getting more organized, redoubling efforts and are getting more tightly organized. They are not pulling out and rejoicing.
It’s a nerd energy where folks helping seem certain it’s possible to solve but after some time at it are coming to believe it’s a matter of more hard work and smarts — more contacts to reach out to, more calls to make, more scenarios envisioned and routes plotted, every one of them some sort of Hail-Mary. That’s not a criticism.
That is where we are.
It’s becoming clear just how many possibilities are not really possibilities any more… if they ever were.
And folks are starting to understand that it all could and likely is going to hell and very quickly; and hideously in any of the growing list of possible “negative outcomes” all of which seem more possible.
Reports from US special forces on the ground and warnings from the UN are saying it’s already more dangerous and hideous than we might know, and certainly more complicated.
The people who thought they might get on a plane now understand — of course with exceptions– that it came came down to a matter of time, lack of preparation, and so many large classes of people, prioritized on their connection to the U.S.
We gave no prioritization to to degree of danger there is to LGBTQ lives though there is a to be a general agreement, both in the United States — weirdly even more on the Republican side– and in Afghanistan that the LGBTQ population is likely at the greatest risk after folks who helped American forces. But with that, very little urgency.
The Afghan gay men we were in touch with were just not able to crack the right combination of luck, powerful enough diplomatic escort, the correct visa classification for various countries, the right timing to try. to get to the airport, the right Taliban checkpoints of amenable soldiers and the right security forces and then consular officers from which ever country to be in attendance that all together might have gotten them on a plane.
Somewhat surprisingly the video they sent was a short by a man they don’t know who had a quite different experience. It’s included at the very end of this postIt’s what it has felt like there..
US Special Forces Sniper Witnessed Taliban Killings
On Fox this week, a US Special Forces sniper Tim Shipman, who spent time in Afghanistan and Iraq, said he had witnessed first hand Taliban fighters burning homosexuals alive and throwing them off of roofs, which is in line with an interview. in the German magazine Bind with a Taliban judge who said the islamist movement had declared that Afghan gay men should be stoned or crushed under from a nine meter wall.
This week he was there as part of the Pineapple volunteer force extricating key people and escorting them to the airport. His team rescued almost 9,000 people but the description of the situation at the airport for those trying get out was harrowing.
…things you “wouldn’t want to happen in your worst nightmare” happened “right in front of” him and his group, describing the flashbangs and sounds of “bullets going off,” as well as “people being beaten and trampled to death” and “babies hanging in concertina wire.”Tim Shipman, US Special Forces on what it’s like outside airport in Kabul on Fox
Towleroad listened to more Fox coverage than is healthy trying to determine if Tim Shipmen said he had seen gay men thrown off roofs in the last few weeks or during his tours over the last decades and we were unable to verify that he said he’d seen that in the last few weeks as multiple outlets have reported. Other outlets reported that he was referring to his multiple tours of duty. While the latter seems more likely to us, it’s been reported both ways.
Many Afghan gay men are Hiding. ‘Of course, I will risk everything to get out.
Novelist Nemat Sadat, gay Afghan-American taught in Afghanistan for a few years in 2012-13 has spent most. of his life in the United States. Since his stint teaching there he has been a vocal advocate for the rights of LGBTQ Afghans and is thought to be the first of the Afghan gay men to come out.
He told Reuters He’d been contacted by a 21 year old gay man who was in hiding, paralyzed in his fear who said:
If I find a visa and a country gives me permission to leave, of course I will risk everything to get out,” said an Afghan gay student, whose name was withheld for his protection21 Year old in hiding in Kabul
“Any country, but not here. Living here means nothing for us.”
‘What Can We do? We’re going to get exterminated’
Sadat said he’d received more than 100 messages and calls from Afghan gay men trying to get out and in similar situations. That was 8 days ago, August 22.
People are messaging me, telling me ‘What can we do? ‘What can we do? We’re going to get exterminated. The Taliban are going to weed us out and kill us,’” Sedat said in a video cal
Two days ago, Sadat told CBC that number was more than 250+ LGBTQ+ people, pleading with him to help them escape.
“I’m very scared for the [LGBTQ+] community there,” said Sadat. “I believe that they will be annihilated completely.”
Disturbingly he says they are using social media and other means to infiltrate groups of Afghan gay men and lure them out and into danger.
Boyfriend Killed and Chopped; Now Taliban is Calling Him
UK I News spoke in some detail with two Afghan gay men, Aziz who is quoted above, and Gabir. (A reminder that these and the names of all Afghan gay men in this post other than Sadat and Artemis Akbary and any journalists mentioned are entirely fictitious.)
Sadat also connected journalists to this, for now the most harrowing story of all. Gabir told Patrick Strudwick of I news how quickly and severely his life went south the day the Taliban rolled in, August 15.
In the morning he’d been out with his boyfriend for a meal. “By the afternoon, nothing was working – phone signals were out, the internet was patchy.”
Early evening he finally connected with a friend who told him the Taliban had caught and killed Gabir’s boyfriend.
Two cars came, with Taliban in it. They said, ‘Where is his home?’ and beat him so much. They took him away – nobody knows where – and then they kill him. Afterwards they said they brought the body [back] and cut his body into pieces to show the people that this is what we do with gay people.” He was 24.Gabir, 26, on the Taliban killing his boyfriend
A few days later, Gabir received a threatening call from someone who seemed to be a Taliban member.
“When I answer, he start using bad words. He said, ‘I know you are gay, before capturing Kabul we knew everything about you, you have three or four friends who are gay, you have a boyfriend. Once we settle here in Kabul we will not let you live. If we find you, we will kill you’Gabir on the Taliban calling
Understandably Gabir is in his 5th hiding spot far from Kabul. He’s alone. His gay friends disappeared. He says he is “100 percent sure i’m going to die”. The Taliban are searching homes and question everyone. “I know they will find me because they keep looking for interpreters and people who are gay. this is my fifth location. I don’t know where to go. “
When asked what he wanted the British Government to do for Afghan gay men he said. ” i just want them to save us.”
Raped, Beaten, Outed to Family
Over the weekend, ITV journalist Jocelyn Evans reported that another gay man in Kabul was the victim of premeditated and planned attack by Taliban who tricked him into meeting
He’d been talking to a man on social media for three weeks before agreeing to meet him. Terrified since the Taliban took control of the country, the man promised safe passage out o f the country.
Instead, two members of the Taliban met him and carried out their brutal attack.
“Two people raped him, they beat him, and then demanded his father’s number so they could tell him his son was gay.”
Hanan (not his real name) survived but is living in silence, shock, and shame under a regime intent on not just denying, but extinguishing the existence of him and we who are like him.ITV journalist Jocelyn Evans
Taliban Use Social Media to Lure gay men
Evans also spoke with Artemis Akbary, an Afghan LGBT+ rights activist in Turkey, who said the Taliban will not be more tolerant than its previous one, no matter what they say.Furthermore, he believes social media will make it easier than ever for the Taliban to find and kill LGBT+ Afghans.
His fear is the Taliban will further leverage social media,
“They’ll make a profile account and deceive LGBT+ people by pretending they’re a member of the community,”
“My friends in Afghanistan are scared, they don’t know what will happen to them in the future so they’re just trying to hide.”Artemis Akbary, LGBTQ rights activist based in Turkey.
And while many of the killings by the Taliban were done publicly when the Taliban were in power, both Akbary and Sadat have spoken of hearing that Taliban tactics have changed. They understand from other parts of Afghanistan that they have gotten smarter about public relations and. If anything more bloodthirsty and are as likely to just shoot Afghan gay men and keep it quiet.
Ahmadulla Goes Into Hiding
That has forced some from the LGBTQ+ community in Afghanistan, like a man named Ahmadullah, to go into hiding. CBC News is not disclosing his last name because he fears for his safety.
Any Allies? Very Few Stand with Afghan gay men
Rainbow Railroad, which started as a group helping persecuted gay people in east Africa leave and build better lives elsewhere is on of the only groups focused on LGBTQ people in danger under the Taliban. This is who folks are being referred to and they are a relatively small operation that is not well known. they say they have been in touch with more than 200 gay, lesbian, bi, trans Afghanis who want out.
Others working on this Include Rainbow Migration in the UK As well as Stonewall
Canada has specifically included LGBTQ people at risk as targets to fill some of the 20,000 refugee slots they have said they will allow. The Irish also mentioned LGBTQ people seeking asylum, but with a total of just 150 available
Other than that it’s seemed a though the US and all the other major countries working the evacuation were careful to NOT commit to helping LGBTQ people out in spite of the likely much higher risk. This is in spite of the general understanding globally that Afghan gay men and other LGBTQ people have less protection, are oppressed by the rest of the country as well and face the most brutal violence and methods the Taliban can bring to it.
The descriptions from these men makes clear that the Taliban see the killing of Afghan gay men and women as something like the enjoyable good part that as a bonus will get point politically and from god, while not incurring so much as a reproach from civil society.
The world needs to speak up. From what we are hearing this has worked to at least minimally protect women and to make the Taliban think twice and lie about their protections. To this point, American politicians have avoided saying anything about LGBTQ people and have specifically not included them in the lists of people important to America. How can this message NOT have been received by the Taliban who seem to care at least. a little bit about public opinion at least at this moment.
We need to change the messages and send help. We need to lift up and let them know we are watching and we care deeply about how they deal with human lives, and we need to repeat what has been said by the UN and by Hillary Clinton as Secretary. ofState that LGBTQ rights are human rights and Afghan gay men’s lives are human lives, not sport or rape toys or a way to get to heaven.
There is still time and there are still ways to keep these people safe–as well as anyone else the Taliban mistakes for being gay or conveniently decides is gay or that someone reports as gay for whatever reason. We know what this looks like.
In North America, visit rainbowrailroad.org
In the United Kingdom, visit https://giveout.org/afghanistan-appeal
Other ways to help here.
And this is what getting out looked like. This was forwarded to Towleroad by one of the men we have been in touch with. Its beautifully done.