A 20-year-old Afghan, Ramiz S., had to return to his old workplace to collect a paycheck. Along the way, he had to pass Taliban checkpoints. He had no trouble getting through the first checkpoint, but at the second checkpoint an armed man hurled a homophobic slur at him.
Trigger warning: This story contains details about homophobic language and sexual assault and may be distressing for 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 by chat on line.
“You are a izak (an anti-gay slur)! the gunman said to Ramiz. Another man punched 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 him and then gang raped him for eight hours”.
Once they released him, they told him they would come back for him. “From now on, whenever we want to be able to find you, we will,” they said. “And we will do what we want with you.”
Desperate situation in Afghanistan
A new Human Rights Watch (HRW) report released on January 26 detailed the “desperate” situation in Afghanistan for LGBTQI people. Gay Afghans like Ramiz face gang rape, violence and death threats, according to the report.
HRW and OutRight Action International interviewed 60 LGBTI Afghans between October and December.
The investigation revealed that there have been “serious threats” to LGBTQI Afghans since the Taliban took control of the capital, Kabul, in August last year.
Many of those interviewed said they had been “attacked, sexually assaulted or directly threatened” by Taliban members because of their “sexual orientation” or “gender identity”.
Others reported abuse from “family members, neighbors” and “romantic partners”, all of whom are now believed to support the Taliban.
Heather Barr, deputy women’s rights director at Human Rights Watch, said SBS News “The Taliban have made an explicit commitment not to respect the rights of LGBT Afghans.
Australia must do more to help vulnerable Afghans
Barr told a news conference ahead of the launch of HRW’s report that it was “extremely disappointing” to see foreign governments failing to act to help Afghanistan’s most vulnerable.
“There seems to be some kind of feeling that it’s over and it’s time to move on. This is not how asylum decisions are supposed to be made,” she said.
According to SBS Newsthe The Australian Senate published a report on Friday January 21 revealing “Australia’s major flaws in evacuating people in Afghanistan up to and during the evacuation period when the Taliban came to power”.
Immigration Minister Alex Hawke announced that the federal government will offer 15,000 visas to Afghans soon after the report is released. This would allow them to resettle in Australia over the next four years.
Hawke had said that women, girls, ethnic minorities, LGBTQI and other minority groups would be given priority when issuing visas.
The Greens and the Australian Multicultural GLBTIQ Council have both said the federal government must do more to help Afghan refugees, especially those who are LGBTQI.
If you feel distressed while reading the story, you can contact 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 live chat.