‘The Taliban will have no mercy’: LGBTQ+ Afghans go into hiding

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09/20/2021

Laila, a transgender woman in Afghanistan, rubs her eyes to wipe tears away. “I am terrified. It’s like a nightmare. I don’t feel safe even in my room. I’m scared of the Taliban. When I see them I feel they will know who I am and they will come to beat me, kick me or send me to prison.” After the chaotic US withdrawal from Afghanistan in August, Laila is far from an isolated case. Rehmat, a gay man, said: “Our lives are in danger. We are afraid of having mobile phones. I get afraid when I receive calls from unknown numbers, worried that it might be the Taliban.” There are rumours that the Taliban are tricking gay men into meeting them by contacting them on social media with a promise of escape from Afghanistan. This has caused panic across the country’s gay community, many of whose members are in hiding. The fear that the extremists are tracing them to persecute or kill them is real, and people live in a state of anxiety that they will be rounded up, imprisoned and tortured.

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