Words: Alastair James; pictures: Wiki (left) and Pexels
The LGBTQ advocacy group, the ILGA, has joined more than 130 other organisations in calling for the protection of women, children, LGBTQ, and other vulnerable people in Afghanistan.
In a joint statement, the coalition of groups calls for the protection of people’s rights, for vulnerable groups to be included and consulted with as things develop, and for humanitarian assistance following the Taliban takeover of the country in the last week.
This week has seen dramatic scenes following the withdrawal of US and British troops from Afghanistan and the Taliban swiftly take control of the country, including the capital, Kabul.
“Respect the rights of all people”
In the open letter, 136 organisations, including ILGA World and ILGA Asia, say they are concerned “over human rights and the safety of marginalised groups in the country,” following the Taliban takeover.
They make five calls: that "the rights of all people” be respected under the country’s constitution and human rights agreements; that the human rights of women and LGBTQ people should “not be compromised for a political peace deal” and for those to be included in discussions going forward.
They call for the international community to provide humanitarian assistance and for countries to accept refugees prioritising LGBTQ people, women, and other vulnerable groups.
Finally, they've urged people to donate and assist in helping to provide aid, especially to the LGBTQ community given a lack of relevant organisations in Afghanistan.
They point to reports of women already being subjected to a strict version of Sharia law, which could see women being banned from going to school or university, wiping out decades of progress for women’s rights in the country.
The group is equally concerned about the status of LGBTQ people in Afghanistan, where LGBTQ people already live in fear of violence and “honour killings”, which the group says could escalate now. Same-sex sexual activity is illegal in all of Afghanistan and punishable with a maximum penalty of death.
In July, speaking to the German newspaper the Bild, Taliban judge Gul Rahim said: “For homosexuals, there can only be two punishments: either stoning or he must stand behind a wall that will fall down on him. The wall must be 2.5 to 3 metres high.”
Elsewhere in the interview, the 38-year-old said women would only be allowed to leave their home with permission, before detailing a recent case he presided over.
"Stop preventing women from accessing public life"
The open letter also says, in regard to the Taliban’s “general amnesty”, that any governance needs to “empower women and minorities and be based on human rights and evidence-based practices.
“If the Taliban wants to include women, it needs to first stop preventing women from accessing public life and education and to not perpetuate any harm against women and minorities.”
It also reminds the international community, especially those who’ve been involved in Afghanistan, that there is a “moral obligation” to “to ensure that the political crisis is diffused via a solution that prioritises the self-determination of the Afghan people while protecting vulnerable persons from harm and violence.”
Separately in response to the situation in Afghanistan, a crowdfunding page has already raised more than £22,000 for the country’s LGBTQ people. It was set up by Bobuq Sayed, an Australian-born writer of the Afghan diaspora, and their friends Qais Munhazim, Wazina Zondon, and Ahmad-Bilal Askaryar.
some friends and i are fundraising for queer and trans Afghans who are trying to escape the Taliban’s efforts to return Afghanistan to the dark ages. please share this post and/or donate:https://t.co/d2MwUfNCX3 pic.twitter.com/d36K51dEdm— bobuq بابک (@bobuqsayed) August 12, 2021
Speaking to Australia’s Star Observer, Sayed said: “Many fear a return to the previous era under Taliban rule twenty years ago when women were not allowed in school past year three, music and dance were banned, and the slaughter of Hazaras, LGBT people, and for ‘immoral acts’ was commonplace.”
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