The horrific execution of 22-year-old gay medical student Hamed Sabouri by the Taliban in Afghanistan has highlighted the worsening plight of LGBTQ+ people in that country as the world stands by and watches.
According to Sabouri’s family and boyfriend, he was stopped by Taliban gunmen at a checkpoint in Kabul in August. He was then tortured for three days before being shot in the head and neck more than 12 times.
The family, who have now fled the country in fear for their lives, learnt of Sabouri’s death when the Taliban sent them a graphic four-second video of his execution.
“The Taliban murdered Hamed and sent the video to his family and me,” Bahar, Sabouri’s partner, told The Guardian.
“We were like any other couple around the world in love but the Taliban treat us like criminals. They’ve killed the love of my life and I don’t know how I’ll live without him.”
Bahar said he’d himself been arrested three times by the Taliban in the past year and had been raped, beaten and tortured with electric shocks. He added that he had many LGBTQ+ friends in Afghanistan who have also been kidnapped and tortured.
Behesht Collective, an LGBTQ+ group in Afghanistan, pleaded for international assistance in getting desperate LGBTQ+ people out of the country.
“The Taliban didn’t only kill Hamed Sabouri. They buried the aspirations of 1250 Afghan LGBTQ+ who are part of Behesht Collective and the hundreds of thousands of LGBTQ+ outside of our network who remain stuck in Afghanistan,” said the collective in a statement.
“LGBTQ+ people will never accept Sharia Law because Sharia Law is meant to eliminate us. Hamed died leaving behind his big dreams. He wanted to be a doctor and become a force for change in our society. If the world doesn’t help us then we will all be gone like Hamed. Please help us get out of this hell-hole.”
Roshaniya, a nonprofit organisation that helps persecuted LGBTQ+ Afghans escape the country, said that “If the world doesn’t intervene now to grant asylum protection then I’m afraid the entire LGBT+ community in Afghanistan will perish within a few years’ time.”
British LGBTQ human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell said that Sabouri’s murder “was facilitated by the refusal of the UK and other western governments to aid the evacuation of at-risk LGBTs. They promised to help but have not!”
The Taliban retook power from the US-backed government in August last year after American troops left Afghanistan. The militant group espouses a strict interpretation of Islamic Sharia law, which includes execution as a penalty for homosexuality.