The Afghan LGBTQIA + community will have a bleak future under the new regime of the radical Islamic group Taliban, predicts Afghan writer and activist Nemat Sadat, 41. “Even if they don’t resort to the public lynchings they carried out in the 1990s, they can arrest LGBT + people or kill them. And no one will know. “
Sadat spoke to Folha by video call from San Diego, USA, a country he arrived in as a refugee – later became a US citizen. As a child, he left Afghanistan in the context of the Soviet-Afghan conflict (1979-1989), because his mother’s family, linked to the Pashtun aristocracy, was persecuted by the Communists. “I lived through the Cold War at home,” says Sadat.
The writer returned to his home country in 2012, where he began advocating for LGBTQIA + rights. Persecuted, he had to leave Afghanistan the following year. Since the Taliban took control of Kabul last Sunday (15), Sadat has articulated an operation to try to expel LGBT + people from the country.
The Afghan is the author of “The Carpet Weaver”, released in India in 2019. The book tells the story of a young homosexual of Muslim origin who discovers his identity in Afghanistan in the 1970s.
What should the Afghan LGBTQIA + community expect from the Taliban regime? As long as all the cameras in the world are on the Taliban, they will try to give a moderate picture. But when they are no longer the center of attention, they can do whatever they want. Even if they don’t resort to the public lynchings of the 1990s, they can arrest or kill LGBT + people, and no one will know.
The Taliban haven’t changed the mindset of the Dark Ages, there has been just a cosmetic modernization: they have cell phones, they take selfies, they are good at getting likes on the net. They say the war is over now that they’ve taken power, but they won’t want to make peace with their internal enemies.
The Taliban treat LGBT + people as enemy fighters and traitors because they consider their way of life to violate the precepts of Islam. There are LGBT people all over Afghanistan as well as the rest of the world. There are people who are in the closet, others who live their identity openly, and who will now lose the freedoms they have won. You have to leave the country urgently, and I want to help you with that.
Like mr. Do you want to help Afghan LGBT + people right now? Over the past few days, I have received the names of over 100 people who wish to leave Afghanistan. I am activating my network of contacts in the country and I hope that in the next few days I can get a charter flight to take them out. It is not only translators and others who have collaborated with Western forces who have the right to leave the country safely.
Due to more than four decades of conflict in the country, there is a large Afghan diaspora in various corners of the world, including Brazil. With the return of the Taliban to power, we will have a new wave of refugees, but which country will want to welcome them in the midst of a pandemic? If the United States does not help the Afghan LGBTQIA + community and refuses to take out all the people who want out of the country, it will be tainted forever, it will be a disgrace to the world.
To what extent has the US-led military occupation helped promote LGBTQIA + rights in Afghanistan? On the one hand, there was an opening after the outside intervention, people studied and gained freedoms. We were moving forward little by little, gaining space in the media and generating an unprecedented debate in the country on homosexuality and Islam.
But the United States has not promoted LGBTQIA + rights in Afghanistan. LGBT + Afghans continue to be victims of honor killings, forced marriages, beatings, rapes and murders. It is common practice for Afghan security forces – trained by the West to fight terrorism – to create fake profiles on dating apps in order to identify and capture gay and bisexual men. It all happened under the noses of the US military occupation and NATO [aliança militar ocidental].
I started my LGBTQIA + rights activism in Afghanistan in 2012, when I was a professor at the American University of Afghanistan, an institution linked to the US State Department. Being gay, I was the target of threats and reprisals until I was fired and had to leave the country the following year. Conservative Muslim clerics issued a fatwa [decreto religioso] against me. Neither the university nor the American government defended me.
Now the United States has decided to throw the Afghans into the arms of the terrorist enemy, it is a shame. President Joe Biden said the Afghans lacked the courage to fight the Taliban, but the truth is they had the courage to hang on to planes and die for refusing to be at the mercy of the extremists.
There is a problem of racism when we talk about LGBTQIA + rights in Afghanistan, they say “it’s another culture, we are Muslims, we don’t want to be insensitive”. The country is currently experiencing the worst-case scenario imaginable for LGBT + people, but there is also Chechnya, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Russia and several other places where we are fighting to have our rights recognized.
Nemat Sadat, 41 years old
American-based Afghan writer and activist, he is the author of “The Carpet Weaver” (2019). He holds a degree in International Management and Political Science from the University of California and has completed postgraduate courses at Harvard, Columbia, Oxford and Johns Hopkins Universities.