This piece initially appeared on Advocate.com, read the original here.
Gay and bisexual men are fearing for their lives since the fall of Kabul on August 15, which some saying saying they worry the Taliban will execute them all.
“I just hope that somebody comes and wakes me up from this bad dream,” a 37-year-old gay Afghan told Insider. The man, a United Nations worker, recalled the joyous times of going to a karaoke bar in Kabul and hanging out and dancing with members of the city’s LGBTQ+ community. “It was fantastic and so much fun.”
Things have changed drastically. Now, the man, whom Insider called Rameen, is even too scared to meet with his boyfriend.
“If the Taliban finds out about us, they'll sentence us to death,” Rameen told the site, while in tears. “I think we will have to stop our relationship.”
There’s reason to worry. German newspaper Bild already spoke to one Taliban judge who said the group would stone gay men. The group is known for its extremist view on Sharia Law, which would make homosexuality punishable by death.
Queer men are telling media they hope to find a way to escape the Taliban’s new rule. While homosexuality was still punishable by death, the punishment hadn’t been applied since 2001. During the Taliban’s rule in the 1990s, gay men were sentenced to death in Kabul, Kandahar, Herat, and elsewhere in the country.
“It's clear to me that as soon as the Taliban know that I am a gay man, they will kill me without even thinking about it,” another Afghan man said.
Nemet Sadat, the first public figure in the country to promote LGBTQ+ rights, said he is working to help LGBTQ+ people seek asylum elsewhere. Sadat worked in LGBTQ+ rights in the country while teaching political science at the American University of Afghanistan in Kabul. However, he fled to the U.S. after he received death threats.
“It's not hyperbolic to say that gay people will get weeded out and exterminated by the Taliban, just like the Nazis did,” Sadat said. “People are messaging me saying here's my passport, here's all my information, please get me out of this country, I'm going to die.”
Human rights groups globally are now demanding governments take asylum seekers.
Canadian LGBTQ+ organization Rainbow Railroad has urged governments to take in LGBTQ+ Afghans.
“Rainbow Railroad is concerned that the return to power of the Taliban will lead to instances of extreme violence directed at members of the LGBTQI+ community in Afghanistan. And although it remains to be seen how the Taliban will respond to international pressure to uphold human rights, early signs are not encouraging,” the organization said in a statement.
“Now is the time for governments to step up and support LGBTQI+ Afghan refugees.”