In a surprise to no one, we've now got confirmation that LGBTQ people in Afghanistan are more at risk of harm since the Taliban resumed control of the country.
A report by Human Rights Watch details how the lives of LGBTQ people in Afghamistan have "dramatically worsened" since the collapse of the Afghan government - that was supported by US troops - and the return to power of the Taliban.
The report highlights instances of violence, gang-rape, and death threats as examples of the harm that LGBTQ people are being subjected to.
While remaining in Afghanistan is clearly unsafe for LGBTQ people, trying to flee the country to seek asylum elsewhere is almost impossible.
The report by Human Rights Watch details how the return to power by the Taliban in Afghanistan has empowered vigilantes and homophobes.
What’s life like for LGBTQ people in Afghanistan?
Is homosexuality legal in Afghanistan?
No. It was illegal under the Penal Code of the previous government. It is also illegal under the Sharia law applied by the Taliban.
Homosexuality is seen as a taboo subject, and something that goes against the Islamic religion which is the official religion of Afghanistan.
Anyone accused of being homosexual is at risk of being killed.
Is there any legal recognition of same-sex relationships in Afghanistan?
Unsurprisingly, there is no legal recognition of same-sex relationships in Afghanistan.
Are there any discrimination protections for LGBTQ people in Afghanistan?
Because of the criminalisation of homosexuality, and the socially-conservative nature of Afghan society, there are no protections available to people on the basis of sexuality.
The contradiction of prostitution
While homosexuality is taboo, there is a history of younger men being used as prostitutes – or dancing boys – to satisfy the sexual needs of older men. The boys are trained to dance seductively at men-only parties.
This is seen as a Persian custom, known as Bacha Bazi – boy play. It’s partly driven by the strict social rules surrounding interaction between men and women.
Despite Bacha Bazi being illegal under Afghan law, authorities are unable to end the practice because many of those involved are influential men. To these men, keeping a bacha baireesh – a boy without beard – is a sign of power and high social status.
In the 1990s, bacha bazi was outlawed by the Taliban, with sodomy, dancing and music carrying the death penalty – although the militant group have been accused of participating in the practice themselves.
The Boy Who Danced on Air
Created in 2017 by Charlie Sohne and Tim Rosser, The Boy Who Danced on Air is a musical that explores the world of the dancing boys of Afghanistan.
The musical is a love story between a 16-year-old boy, Paiman, and another young boy caught in the same bacha bazi practice.
It’s been criticised for glorifying the Bacha Bazi practice and distorting the experience of queer people in Afghanistan.