Afghanistan: Gay man in Kabul 'raped and beaten' by Taliban after being tricked into meeting

  • Report by ITV News digital journalist Jocelyn Evans

"Two people raped him, they beat him, and then demanded his father's number so they could tell him his son was gay."

In Taliban-controlled Afghanistan, this is the reality for LGBT+ people living in the country.

The victim, we'll call Hanan to protect his identity, had been talking to a man on social media for three weeks before agreeing to meet him.

Hanan, a gay man terrified since the Taliban took control of the country, had been promised a safe way out of the country.

He was deceived - two members of the Taliban met him and carried out their brutal attack.

Hanan survived but is living in silence, shock, and shame under a regime intent on not just denying, but extinguishing the existence of him and we who are like him.

Taliban fighter sits on the back of a vehicle with a machine gun in front of the main gate leading to the Presidential Palace in Kabul Credit: AP

Artemis Akbary, an Afghan LGBT+ rights activist based in Turkey, told me the threat of death for LGBT+ people in his home country is now greater than ever before.

The Taliban claims it will be a more lenient regime than the one of 20 years ago, something UK military chiefs say we should give them the benefit of the doubt on, but Artemis says this is a lie.

"They are trying to tell the world 'we are changed and we don't have problems with women's rights or human rights' - but they are lying.

"The Taliban hasn't changed, because their ideology hasn't change," he says.

Under that ideology, same sex love, attraction and relationships are punishable by death.

Artemis warns that Hanan's case will not be an isolated one now the Taliban has access to social media.

"They'll make a profile account and deceive LGBT+ people by pretending they're a member of the community.

"My friends in Afghanistan are scared, they don't know what will happen to them in the future so they're just trying to hide."

Afghanistan before the Taliban took back control was still an unsafe place for LGBT+ people, with those caught in same sex relationships facing prison.

But in recent years, Artemis says, authorities began paying less attention - with queer people even featured in some supportive news and media coverage.

"With the arrival of the Taliban, everything will change," he says.

He says the world cannot turn its back on LGBT+ people in Afghanistan, calling for the Taliban's "atrocities" to be laid bare and their so-called government not recognised.

For those Afghans stuck in hiding in the country, Artemis urged them to listen to Radio Ranginkaman - an audio project giving voice to a group of people forced into silence.

What's been done to evacuate LGBT+ Afghans out of the country?

The Western evacuation out of Afghanistan is all but over, with the focus now turning to the remaining diplomats and service personnel.

An untold number of vulnerable people remain stuck in the country.

Charities Rainbow Railroad and Stonewall have helped bring some of those people to safety, providing a list of LGBT+ Afghans within reach of Kabul airport and evacuation out of the country.

LGBT+ people have been labelled as people of concern in the crisis.

But as Western forces withdraw, "things will only get worse" Kimahli Powell, chief executive at Rainbow Road, told me.

"All signs indicate that people will face real danger in the weeks and months to come"

"The consistent message from those individuals is that they are in fear of their lives, but what happens if they cannot escape?"

The UK government has spoken of phase one of the evacuation process being completed, with both Biden and Johnson talking of "contingency plans" to help get more people out beyond that point.

What those plans are remain unclear, but would likely involve evacuation via one of Afghanistan's neighbouring countries.

That leaves "no good option" for LGBT+ people Kimahli says, as same-sex relationships are criminalised or discriminated against in those neighbouring nations.