February 14, 2023
The Taliban’s return to power in August 2021 left many lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, intersex, and queer (LGBTIQ) Afghans fearing for their lives. Hundreds sought to leave the country with help from foreign governments and non-governmental organizations(NGOs), while many who chose to stay or could not leave went into hiding at home.
The Taliban’s first year of rule by force in Afghanistan demonstrates that LGBTIQ people’s fears were not unfounded. Between September and October 2022, Outright International interviewed 22 LGBTIQ Afghans, all of them currently in Afghanistan. Their accounts suggest that Taliban security officials now appear to be pursuing LGBTIQ people – especially gay men and trans women – more systematically than in the first few months of Taliban rule, subjecting them to physical and sexual assault and arbitrary detention. In several cases, the authorities have subjected people to public flogging for alleged same-sex relations, and the Taliban Supreme Court, on social media, has confirmed and defended the implementation of these punishments.
This report follows an initial report published by Outright International and Human Rights Watch in January 202 based on interviews with 60 LGBTIQ Afghans who suffered abuse and threats, often from family members and neighbors, in the wake of the Taliban’s return to power. The new report finds that as anti-LGBTIQ persecution has become more systemic, paths to safety have disappeared. The risk of violence has complicated LGBTIQ people’s ability to seek aid from groups inside the country, and Afghanistan’s neighbors have made it harder for Afghans to cross their borders. The international community has failed to press the Taliban to respect LGBTIQ people’s fundamental rights. Diplomats, donors, and aid agencies should make protection and services for LGBTIQ people a priority, even when Taliban abuses complicate doing so.