This report provides a detailed look at the coordinated persecution LGBTQI+ people are facing at the hands of the Taliban, a first-ever analysis based on 1,739 requests for help submitted to Rainbow Railroad.
TORONTO, Dec. 19, 2022 /CNW/ – Today, Rainbow Railroad released “No Safe Way Out: Human Rights Violations Against LGBTQI+ people under the Taliban”. The report provides qualitative analysis based on 1,739 requests for help submitted to Rainbow Railroad between August 2021 and August 2022. Accounts from individuals throughout the report describe coordinated and repeated tactics used by the Taliban to target and persecute LGBTQI+ communities. For the first time based on requests for help, Rainbow Railroad is able to provide details on the extreme violence towards LGBTQI+ people and those who support them perpetrated by the Taliban.
These findings corroborate and update earlier reports of abuses against LGBTQI+ people by the Taliban.
“In writing this report, it became clear how all-encompassing the threats are towards LGBTQI+ people in Afghanistan under Taliban rule,” said Kathryn Hampton, the primary author of the report and Head of Impact at Rainbow Railroad. “This report is a jarring summary of violence faced by individuals suspected of being members of the LGBTQI+ community – violence they’re facing just for being who they are, or loving who they love. Conducting this research was heartbreaking and deeply alarming. Our recommendations are even more urgent following disturbing recent reports by Taliban officials of public floggings of LGBTQI+ people before thousands of onlookers.”
According to individuals who have reached out to Rainbow Railroad for help, the Taliban is targeting LGBTQI+ people due to their sexual orientation, gender identity, expression, or sex characteristics. Individual accounts included in this report detail multiple tactics used by the Taliban to identify and find LGBTQI+ people, including identifying them from social media photos or videos, during searches of belongings and cellphones at checkpoints, and through emboldening community members to surveil and report on LGBTQI+ people. The report details how individuals are encouraged to report on their own friends, colleagues and family members if they are suspected of being LGBTQI+, or risk facing punishment themselves.
A number of LGBTQI+ people reported being beaten and subject to physical violence by the Taliban both inside of, and concerningly, outside of detention settings, either in their homes during an unlawful search, or in public places to ‘make an example’ of members of the LGBTQI+ community. Rape and sexual violence were mentioned in many requests for help, including sexual assault by family,community members, and members of the Taliban themselves in an environment of impunity.
Rainbow Railroad also reviewed several documents, reportedly issued by Taliban officials, which indicate that these violent incidents may even be coordinated actions based on official Taliban policies.
“This report demonstrates the extreme risk that LGBTQI+ Afghans are facing everyday. Those reaching out to Rainbow Railroad are in serious danger,” said Rainbow Railroad Executive Director Kimahli Powell. “We have hundreds of LGBTQI+ Afghans who are at severe risk ready to travel. It’s up to governments, including the governments of Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom, to partner with us to respond urgently.”
In the first year of Taliban rule, from August 15, 2021 until August 22, 2022, Rainbow Railroad received 3,797 requests for help from LGBTQI+ Afghans. Rainbow Railroad has facilitated the relocation of 247 Afghans for resettlement to safer countries since August 2021, and have also provided 648 Afghans with financial assistance, shelter support, mental health support, and other forms of assistance.
The report is available for download here.
For more information about Rainbow Railroad’s involvement in Afghanistan, click here.
Rainbow Railroad is an international charitable organization with headquarters in New York and Toronto that helps LGBTQI+ people seeking safe haven from state-enabled violence and persecution in countries where same-sex intimacy and diverse gender expressions and sex characteristics are criminalized. Rainbow Railroad is a registered Canadian charity and 501(c)3 organization in the USA.
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SOURCE Rainbow Railroad