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‘We’re seen as a cancer on society’: The LGBT people desperate to escape Afghanistan

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Taliban men carry a man in the air between them, with one carrying each leg and others his arms. As a crowd stands around, figures dressed in black hit him on his back and legs with a stick.

Footage of the incident shown on TV includes the ticker: ‘He was a gay boy from Kabul’.Meran Ahmad sent this clip to me, captioning it simply: ‘This is how the Taliban are treating LGBT people’.He is one of around a thousand people identified as being particularly at risk in Afghanistan due to their sexuality or gender identity.

They are desperate to escape to a country where they can live without hiding, and where they don’t fear being executed simply for who they are.After the Taliban took control of the country last summer, Meran, who is bisexual, fled to stay with relatives in Kabul because his family said it wasn’t safe for him to remain in his village.Last year, a Taliban judge said in an interview with German newspaper Bild that there should only be two punishment for homosexuality: stoning or being crushed under a wall.The threat is all pervasive for Meran, who says it is too dangerous for him to have any same sex relationship, which he would like to be able to do. ‘If they find out, they will kill me and the other guy as well,’ he told‘I’m having so much depression and anxiety and I’m scared,’ he said. ’I’m losing myself, I’m losing my soul with wondering what to do – how can I seek help?’He studied business and speaks English well, and before the Taliban takeover worked for a company supporting the US with a good salary, But now, he does not have a job because he says anyone not conforming to Islamist ideology or appearing different struggles to find work.‘If I don’t leave this place, in my lifetime they will.

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