Gay men in Afghanistan are describing the Taliban’s takeover as a “nightmare” and live in fear that they could be executed at any moment.
“We cannot go out because we are just scared for our lives,” a 21-year-old gay man called Ghulam, whose real name was changed for safety purposes, told Insider. “If we get caught, the Taliban will kill us.”
Homosexuality is illegal in Afghanistan, but some gay men recounted they had felt safe enough in recent years to take part in the “underground” gay scene, such as at karaoke bars.
“It was fantastic and so much fun,” one gay man, 37-year-old Rameen, whose name was also changed, recounted.
“Previously, I could meet face-to-face with a partner without feeling any shame about it,” Sayed, another gay man in Afghanistan whose name was changed, told Insider.
But with the Taliban’s takeover, it is now expected that Sharia law will be implemented and homosexuality will be punishable by death.
“It’s not hyperbolic to say that gay people will get weeded out and exterminated by the Taliban, just like the Nazis did,” gay activist Nemat Sadat, who now resides in the U.S., said. “People are messaging me saying here’s my passport, here’s all my information, please get me out of this country, I’m going to die.”
The gay men left in the country now are fearful to meet with their partners, with Rameen saying he wants to be awoken “from this bad dream.”
“If the Taliban finds out about us, they’ll sentence us to death,” Rameen told the outlet while crying. “I think we will have to stop our relationship.”
Women in the country are now also fearful of the Taliban’s takeover, as those who lived under its rule from 1996-2001 were not allowed to attend school or work. They also could only leave their homes with the presence of a man and were required to wear head-to-toe coverings.
Violators of the rules faced public stonings and executions.
A recent statement signed by the U.S. and 20 other countries asked those in power in the country to “guarantee” the protection of women and girls from “any form of discrimination and abuse.” The Taliban pledged to respect “women’s rights,” but reports from the country show women are already being abused.
Activist and former Afghan judge Najla Ayoubi told Sky News this week that Taliban fighter allegedly set a woman on fire for “bad cooking,” while other young women are reportedly being forced into sex slavery.
“There are so many young women are being in the past few weeks being shipped into neighboring countries in coffins to be used as sex slaves,” she said.
“They also force families to marry their young daughters to Taliban fighters. I don‘t see where is the promise that they think women should be going to work, when we are seeing all of these atrocities.”