On Tuesday, September 7, the Taliban named a new acting government in Afghanistan, just weeks after it forcibly took control of the country. The list of cabinet members includes many of the group’s previous ruling party, and unsurprisingly, there are no women among those in power. LGBTQ+ Afghans who were unable to evacuate, are left fearing an uncertain future under the new Taliban rule.
Mohammad Hasan Akhund, a close aide to the group’s deceased founder Mullah Omar, has been appointed as the Acting Prime Minister, with 32 other interim positions also being filled.
Akhund, who is currently on a United Nations sanctions list, was the foreign minister, and later the deputy prime minister when the group last came into power between 1996 and 2001. During that period, there are reports of the death penalty being applied for same-sex conduct, and LGBTQ+ Afghans fear that they may face similar treatment this time around.
According to NBC News, a 20 year-old lesbian wishing to be identified as ‘N’ for security purposes, believes that the Taliban will be targeting the queer community, stating that “They will kill us without sympathy”.
Similarly, a 25 year-old gay man named Faraz fears that he and his family will be kidnapped and killed if they remain in Afghanistan.
In a plea to the US State Department, he said, “The Taliban is in search of the gay people. They are going from street to street.” Faraz hopes to be evacuated.
Homosexuality has been illegal in Afghanistan for decades, but the queer community fears repercussions will become even worse under the Taliban. Speaking to BBC Radio 1, a gay man using the pseudonym Abdul, said that while his sexuality before could have gotten him arrested and trialled in court, now it will get him “killed on the spot”.
While the new rulers are promising change from their last period in charge, Abdul says that, “Even if the Taliban accepts a woman in the government, in school, they will never accept gay or LGBT people. They will kill all of them on the spot.”
The UN is yet to issue a statement particularly focusing on the situation for LGBTQ+ Afghans, however the following has been communicated surrounding at risk civilians:
“The situation on the ground is continuing to evolve minute by minute. UNHCR remains concerned about the risk of human rights violations against civilians in this evolving context. UNHCR, as part of the broader UN country team, will stay and deliver for the Afghan people, including through partners, for as long as we have access to populations in need and safety for our colleagues and partners.
“Additional international support is critical as these needs continue to grow.”
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