Before the Taliban offensive in Afghanistan, the life of Abdul (his real name was changed), a gay man, was already risky.
If he shared his sexual orientation with the wrong person, he could be arrested and tried under Afghan law.
VIDEO: Girls go back to school in an Afghan city despite the return of the Taliban
“As a gay man in Afghanistan, you can’t come out, not even to your family or friends. If I tell my family that maybe they’ll beat me, maybe they’ll kill me.”
But since the Taliban seized control of the country’s major cities last week, Abdul told BBC Radio 1 that if his sexual orientation were revealed today, he would be “killed on the spot”.
The Taliban is a militarized group known for imposing radical Islamic ideals.
Afghan posed as a man for ten years to support his family during the first Taliban rule
According to the group’s interpretation of Islamic law, Sharia, homosexuality is strictly prohibited and punishable by death.
The last time the Taliban were in power in Afghanistan, between the late 1990s and 2001, 21-year-old Abdul was not yet born.
Taliban with their group’s flag at the residence of the governor of Ghazni province, 15 August 2021 — Photo: Gulabuddin Amiri/AP
“I’ve heard my parents and older people talk about the Taliban,” says the young man, who lives in the capital, Kabul.
“We watched some movies. But now, it’s like being inside a movie.”
This week, Abdul planned to take final exams at the university, have lunch with friends and visit his boyfriend, whom he met in swimming three years ago.
But after the Taliban offensive, he has been indoors for four consecutive days. There are Taliban soldiers outside your door.
“When I see the Taliban through the windows, I get really scared. My body starts to shake when I see them,” says the young man.
“Civilians are being killed. I don’t think I’ll ever open my mouth in front of them.”
Although he already had to repress himself, Abdul says he was able to enjoy life in the capital before the arrival of the Taliban.
“My studies were going perfectly. There was life in the city, there was a lot of people.”
Within a week, Abdul feels he has seen his life disappear in front of him.
“There is no future for us,” he says.
“I don’t think I’ll ever be able to continue my studies. My friends, I’ve lost touch with them. I don’t know if they’re okay.”
“My partner is isolated in a different city with his family. I can’t go there, he can’t come here.”
‘They will never accept gays and LGBT people’
Abdul’s father, who worked for the Afghan government — deposed by the Taliban — went into hiding out of fear.
Most of the women the young man meets do not leave home in fear for their lives. Some leave only when accompanied by a man, which is still risky.
Last week, Abdul’s mind went to a very dark place.
“I’m under severe depression.”
“I have thoughts of just ending it all. I don’t want to live that kind of life.”
“I want a future where I can live freely.”
He doesn’t believe the Taliban’s promises that, in this new stage of domination, freedoms will be more respected — such as women’s study and work.
“Even if the Taliban accepts a woman into government, into school, they will never accept gays and LGBT people. They will kill them all right away.”
The young man also commented on videos of Afghans piling on planes to leave the country.
“These people had businesses here, jobs. They had a good life. They’re not crazy about clinging to planes, they’re just at risk for their lives. They know they weren’t safe (if they stayed in Afghanistan).”
Abdul says he is “hoping to find a way out of the country”.
He says he has heard that the UK is planning to take in 20,000 immigrants from his country, but says no one knows how to apply or register to do so.
The Stonewall organization called on the UK government to start “helping LGBTQ+ Afghan refugees survive, relocate and prosper”.
“I just want to say that if someone is listening to my message, as a young person, I have the right to live free and secure,” says Abdul.
“I am 21 years old. In my entire life I have witnessed conflicts, bomb explosions, lost friends and relatives.”
“Just pray for us. Pray for our lives.”