The Taliban has a sinister ‘kill list’ for Afghanistan’s LGBT+ community, charity boss says

Afghan Taliban militants and villagers attend a gathering as they celebrate the peace deal and their victory in the Afghan conflict on US in Afghanistan, in Alingar district of Laghman Province on March 2, 2020.

The Taliban has compiled “a kill list” of LGBT+ Afghans, according to the executive director of a charity helping queer people flee the country.

Human rights groups have been expressing significant concern for Afghanistan’s embattled LGBT+ community ever since the Taliban seized power in August. The extremist militant group holds a strict view of Sharia law, and anecdotal evidence suggests that queer people are already feeling the brunt of the Taliban’s power.

Kimahli Powell, executive director of Rainbow Railroad, told France 24 that it is “a really scary time” for LGBT+ people in Afghanistan as many could be targeted by the Taliban.

“We now know for sure the Taliban has a ‘kill list’ circulating, identifying LGBTQI+ persons,” Powell said.

According to Powell, the Taliban likely compiled its list by paying close attention to the people international groups were trying to evacuate.

“After the fall of Kabul, there was a lot of information sharing,” Powell said. The result was that many of those who were on evacuation lists who didn’t make it out of the country found themselves in vulnerable positions.

The Taliban likely completed its “kill list” through data leaks and “entrapment”, Powell added. He said people have received “mystery” emails from people pretending to be connected to Rainbow Railroad “asking for their information and passport”.

“That’s how we know the information has been leaked,” Powell said.

One LGBT+ person had their passport burned by the Taliban

Rainbow Railroad, an organisation dedicated to evacuating LGBT+ people from dangerous territories, has already received 700 requests from queer people who are hoping to flee Afghanistan. They have identified at least 200 additional people who need to flee.

Tragically, one of the people Rainbow Railroad was working to bring to safety had their home raided by the Taliban. Members of the extremist group discovered through the raid that the person was LGBT+, leading to a vicious beating. They also burned the person’s passport, meaning they cannot get out of the country.

Some LGBT+ people have even been turned in to the Taliban by their family members, Powell said.

“I think everyone’s trying to navigate that environment, and so if they (the Taliban) have identified LGBTQ+ people as a target, there’s an incentive to turn them in,” he said.

Rainbow Railroad and other LGBT+ groups are still working on getting as many queer people out of the country as they can.

Last week, the group won praise when it brought 29 LGBT+ Afghans to safety in the UK through a government initiative.

However, there are many more LGBT+ people stuck in Afghanistan who are still trying to get out. One gay man named Sohil told PinkNews that he was burned by a Taliban member when he went to a government office in a bid to get a passport.

“We don’t know if we will be alive tomorrow or not,” he said. “I think the whole world doesn’t think about that. I think our own LGBT+ community doesn’t think about that.

“In two months, no one contacted me… I had a hope that our LGBT+ community will help us but day by day, I am losing my hope,” he said.

One gay man told the in August that his boyfriend was killed by the Taliban after they were discovered in a restaurant together.