Twenty-year-old Afghan, Ramiz S., had to return to his former workplace to collect a pay cheque. On the way, he had to pass Taliban checkpoints. He had no trouble passing through the first checkpoint, but at the second checkpoint an armed man shouted a homophobic slur at him.

Trigger Warning: This story has details of homophobic language and sexual assault and might be distressing to some readers. 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.

“You are an izak (an anti-gay slur)!” the armed man said to Ramiz. Another man hit him in the throat, then punched him in the stomach and kicked him in the back. 

He was loaded into a car, and taken to another location where “four men whipped then gang-raped him over the course of eight hours.”

Once they released him, they told him they would come for him again. “From now on anytime we want to be able to find you, we will,” they said. “And we will do whatever we want with you.” 

Desperate Situation In Afghanistan

A new report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) issued on January 26 has detailed the “desperate” situation in Afghanistan for LGBTQI persons. Queer Afghans like Ramiz are being subjected to gang-rape, violence, and death threats, the report said.

HRW along with OutRight Action International interviewed 60 LGBTI Afghans between last October and December. 

The survey revealed there are “grave threats” to LGBTQI Afghans since the Taliban seized control of the capital, Kabul in August last year.

Many who were interviewed reported being “attacked, sexually assaulted, or directly threatened” by Taliban members due to their “sexual orientation” or “gender identity.

Others reported abuse from “family members, neighbours” and “romantic partners”, all of who are now said to be supporting the Taliban.

Heather Barr, associate women’s rights director at Human Rights Watch told SBS News “the Taliban have explicitly pledged not to respect LGBT Afghans’ rights.” 

Australia Needs To Do More To Help Vulnerable Afghans

Barr said in a press conference prior to the HRW’s report launch it was “extremely disappointing” to see foreign governments not taking action to help Afghanistan’s most vulnerable. 

“There seems to be a kind of feeling that it’s over and it’s time to move on. That’s not how asylum decisions are supposed to be made,” she said.

According to SBS News, the Australian senate released a report on Friday January 21 revealing “Australia’s major flaws in the evacuation of people in Afghanistan up to and during the evacuation period as the Taliban rose to power.”

Immigration Minister, Alex Hawke announced the federal government will offer 15,000 visas to Afghans soon after the report was released. This would allow them to resettle in Australia over the next four years. 

Hawke had said women, girls, ethnic minorities, LGBTQI and other minority groups will be prioritised when visas are issued.

The Greens and the Australian GLBTIQ Multicultural Council have both said the federal government needs to do more to help Afghan refugees, particularly those who are LGBTQI.

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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