‘Everything is gone’ for LGBT+ Afghans, says bisexual man who escaped before Taliban took over

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08/19/2021

Afghanistan wasn’t a welcoming place for LGBT+ people prior to the Taliban takeover that shocked the world – but human rights activists are expecting things to get much worse. The militant group is likely to enforce an extreme interpretation of Sharia law that could see swathes of women and LGBT+ people executed. Mehrshad* is a bisexual man who decided to flee Afghanistan when he heard that US forces were negotiating with the Taliban (*his name has been changed to protect his identity). He currently resides in a European country as an undocumented migrant. “I realised that there is no hope for the future in Afghanistan for me,” he told PinkNews. “I insisted to my mom that I must leave. My mom said: ‘No, wait until a legal way comes up, like a scholarship, maybe an invitation from any country.’ “I could not handle the situation in Afghanistan because it was very tough for me. I was very sick of it – to hide my identity, my sexuality, my ideology. I could not speak to anyone. For the last three years in Afghanistan, I was all the time at home, reading books, watching movies, staying at home. I did not dare go out. I barely went out for one or two hours with my very close friends and close family, not with any classmates or other guys, because I was scared.” His asylum journey has been a turbulent one. He eventually had to pay a smuggler to take him to a country in Europe from Iran. An asylum application was opened, but it was later mistakenly closed, he says. He remains unsure what his current legal standing is. Mehrshad spent time on the streets before he met a man and moved in with him. He acknowledges that the situation in Afghanistan for LGBT+ people is grim, but he thinks it’s just as bad for those who have fled the country. Complicated processes and hostile systems mean that some Afghans have found themselves stranded in legal limbo, just as Mehrshad has.

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