A new Afghanistan: The fight for LGBTQ+ and women’s rights amongst Taliban regime

Jontaya Moore | Staff Writer

Photo courtesy of Unsplash user Ehimetalor Akhere Unuabona 
 

As the new Taliban-controlled government consolidates its hold over Afghanistan, many wonder what the future will bring. The Taliban captured the Afghanistan capital of Kabul August 15, marking the end of the near 20-year Afghanistan War and eliminating the Republic government in place.

In the initial stages of the Afghan government transition, a Taliban spokesman vowed to uphold the rights of women and the LGBTQ+ community.

However, since the removal of United States troops, Taliban leaders have failed to uphold their word, and persecution has begun. The Taliban’s government control has left women and the LGBTQ+ community in a state of fear and helplessness, according to reports from CNN.

Hundreds of women, who work amongst the Afghan judicial system, have received orders to no longer return to their jobs. Others have been replaced entirely by Taliban appointees. Inmates that were previously sentenced by women judges are being set free, leaving the judges susceptible to other threats as well, according to Qatar media sites.

The Taliban government has also reimplemented segregation laws between males and females on several public levels, including education, according to USA Today. They have also rejected anyone who identifies as LGBTQ+ and has established an all-male governmental cabinet. 

Before the Taliban takeover, the former government had laws that put the LGBTQ+ community at risk of jail time, according to CNN. The Taliban has reinforced the previous government’s position on these matters, including beatings and active persecution. Many fear that the Taliban will soon officially make being LGBTQ+ punishable by death. 

Advocates, like Danielle Stewart, a 23-year army veteran and member of the LGBTQ+ community, believe that women and the LGBTQ+ community need support as they encounter death threats and arrests following the new Afghan government’s strict law enforcement. 

“It’s detrimental to the Taliban government that they uphold their word,” Stewart said. “They won’t get government funding from the rest of the world if they continue to discriminate against women and these LGBTQ+ communities.” 

While stationed in Afghanistan, Stewart spent her time training Afghan military and police forces. This experience gave her knowledge of Afghan culture, governmental processing, and insight into the day-to-day life of the nation’s natives.

Stewart said that many Afghan citizens and military personnel aided America. In return, she believes the United States should consider doing the same for them.

Some organizations, such as the Refugee International Organization, have attempted to ensure the safety of Afghan citizens who are at risk. In a letter to President Biden, the Refugee International Organization urged the Biden Administration to make accommodations for an estimated 200,000 Afghan refugees. 

In the twenty years since the Taliban last controlled Afghanistan, women and the LGBTQ+ community have fought for their rights in historically unprecedented ways. They often would be followed with war, such as the March 2006 Bloody Resurgence, which followed one of the most democratic election years Afghanistan had ever cast. 

Social media has proven to give those being discriminated against a way to speak against injustice with lessened fear of physical retaliation, according to NDTV. Although many have been forced to live in seclusion, some women and LGBTQ+ members find ways to protest.  

Women have created the hashtag “#DoNotTouchMyClothes” in rebuttal to the Taliban’s university uniform mandate that defies traditional Afghan attire. This has connected women, men, and people of all nationalities to stand in unity.

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