A crowdfunding campaign to help LGBTQI+ persons in Afghanistan has been set up by Bobuq Sayed, Perth-born writer of Afghan diaspora, and their friends Qais Munhazim, Wazina Zondon  and Ahmad-Bilal Askaryar .

The campaign on GoFundMe, the world’s largest crowdfunding platform, has already raised over $30,000, but Sayed, who is currently based in Florida, told Star Observer that they are working to get the funds released. 

GoFundMe Blocks Access To The Funds

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GoFundMe had initially blocked the page after the funds crossed $20,000. The campaign page is now back up and running, but platform according to Sayed is asking the organisers to transfer the fund to an Afghan charity.

“GoFundMe are preventing us from accessing the 21k for queer and trans Afghans that we raised, they want us to donate to a charity instead,” Bobuq posted on Twitter, adding, “The cruelty of random men in the silicon valley head office making a life or death decision to withhold funds from our people in need.”

A GoFundMe Australia spokesperson confirmed to The Courier Mail that they had asked the organisers to transfer the funds to a charity or non-profit organisation.

Bobuq was born in Perth before moving to Melbourne and then to the US in 2019 to do their Masters.

The campaign, to help LGBTQI+ Afghans escape, was started last week as the Taliban looked set to take over the country. 

“A few friends and I decided to raise money because there are very few services targeted towards supporting LGBT people in Afghanistan. There are very few avenues for safety and refuge available for Afghans now,” Bobuq told Star Observer

“Disclosing queerness and/or being visible is quite dangerous at the moment, especially in the arduous process of crossing borders to seek asylum,” they said.

‘Many Fear A Return To Taliban Rule’

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According to Bobuq, many Afghans from regional areas of the country fled to the capital Kabul fearing for their safety. But this week the capital city fell into the hands of the Taliban.

The emergence of the Taliban as the new rulers has filled many in the country as well as across the world with dread, given their history of how they have treated women, and other vulnerable minorities, especially LGBTQI+ persons. 

Last month, Taliban judge Gul Rahim had told the German newspaper Bild, that the group would enforce the strict Islamic Sharia law and gay men would be punished by crushing them to death by toppling walls onto them. 

Bobuq and many queer Afghans know only too well the dangers that a Taliban government poses to the local LGBTQI+ community. 

“Many fear a return to the previous era under Taliban rule twenty years ago when women were not allowed in school past year three, music and dance were banned, and the slaughter of Hazaras, LGBT people, and for “immoral acts” was commonplace,” said Bobuq.

‘International Organisations Have Given Up On Afghanistan’

Bobuq and their friends plan to send the money that has been raised to help LGBTQI+ persons to aid their escape to safety. 

“One member of our group was born and raised in Afghanistan and is connected to underground LGBT communities across the country, which is who we plan to send money directly to as soon as we reach our goal,” said Bobuq.

The speed with which the Taliban took over the country was shocking and that has meant plans for escape have had to be changed to help community members survive. The community is also disappointed at what they perceive as other countries and international agencies abandoning them. 

“Many international orgs and countries have given up on Afghanistan. All we can do is support mutual aid for Afghans on the ground,” Bobuq said. 

For more details of the crowdfunding campaign to help LGBT Afghans, check the GoFundMe page.

If you feel distressed reading the story, you can reach out to support services.

For 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14

For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.

 

 

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