NGO uncovers Taliban kill list of Afghan LGBTQ+ people

Canadian NGO Rainbow Railroad shared insight into what life is like for LGBTQ+ Afghans under Taliban rule and reveals reports of a kill list circulating.

Army vehicle
Image: Wikimedia Commons

The Executive Director of Rainbow Railroad, Kimahli Powell, has revealed that the Taliban has a kill list circulating Afghanistan, naming members of the oppressed LGBTQ+ community.

“This is a really scary time to be in Afghanistan,” he said in a phone interview with France 24, months after the Taliban took power at the end of August this year.

Afghanistan has always been a country where LGBTQ+ people have faced discrimination, even under a Western-backed government during which time non-heterosexual relations were punishable by up to two years in prison.

But now, under a strict interpretation of Sharia law, persecution has fatal consequences.

That’s where Rainbow Railroad comes in. This NGO seeks to provide safety and refuge to at-risk LGBTQ+ people who cannot safely stay in their home country, and from Afghanistan alone, the organisation has already received 700 requests this year.

“I can guarantee you already right now, that the number of requests we will receive this year will spike,” said Powell.

Since taking power, the Taliban have not formally declared how they intend to deal with LGBTQ+ relations, but Powell tells France 24 that a kill list has been drawn up and is in circulation in the Muslim-majority country.

This list, Powel suggests, may have been formed by identifying the people that foreign rights groups were trying to evacuate in the weeks leading up to the militant group’s takeover.

“After the fall of Kabul, there was a lot of information sharing,” he says, noting that active persecution, entrapment and data leaks may also have contributed to the formation of the kill list.

“[Some] individuals who have reached out to us have told us about how they’ve received a mystery email from someone claiming to be connected with Rainbow Railroad asking for their information and passport. That’s how we know the information has been leaked.”

Founded in 2006, Rainbow Railroad helps under-threat LGBTQ+ individuals all over the world, receiving around 4,000 requests annually, but their services have been primarily required in Afghanistan as a high-risk country for the community.

© 2021 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

Support GCN

GCN has been a vital, free-of-charge information service for Ireland’s LGBTQ+ community since 1988.

During this global COVID pandemic, we like many other organisations have been impacted greatly in the way we can do business and produce. This means a temporary pause to our print publication and live events and so now more than ever we need your help to continue providing this community resource digitally.

GCN is a registered charity with a not-for-profit business model and we need your support. If you value having an independent LGBTQ+ media in Ireland, you can help from as little as €1.99 per month. Support Ireland’s free, independent LGBTQ+ media.

0 comments. Please sign in to comment.