Afghanistan crowdfunder raises thousands to help LGBT+ people desperate for survival

A crowdfunding campaign raising money for LGBT+ people in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan has exceeded its $20,000 target within 72 hours.

Since it began five days ago the incredible campaign on GoFundMe has raised over $32,000 (£22,519), and it’s still rising.

It was set up by Bobuq Sayed, an Australian-born writer of Afghan diaspora, and their friends Qais Munhazim, Wazina Zondon and Ahmad-Bilal Askaryar.

“A few friends and I decided to raise money because there are very few services targeted towards supporting LGBT people in Afghanistan. There are very few avenues for safety and refuge available for Afghans now,” Sayed told Star Observer.

“Disclosing queerness and/or being visible is quite dangerous at the moment, especially in the arduous process of crossing borders to seek asylum.”

LGBT+ people were hardly welcomed in Afghanistan after the Taliban were ousted 20 years ago, but their resurgence promises even harsher persecution.

“Many fear a return to the previous era under Taliban rule twenty years ago when women were not allowed in school past year three, music and dance were banned, and the slaughter of Hazaras, LGBT people, and for ‘immoral acts’ was commonplace,” said Sayed.

Unfortunately their fear is not misplaced. A Taliban judge has already promised the return of brutal Sharia law punishments, including the death penalty for gays.

“There are only two penalties for gays: Either stoning or he has to stand behind a wall that falls on him. The wall must be 2.5 to 3 meters high,” he told the German newspaper Bild last month.

Many queer Afghans forced to remain in Taliban territory

Desperate LGBT+ people are reportedly fleeing Afghanistan in droves, but many are simply unable to leave.

One queer Afghan stuck in his home in Herat told Sayed: “Taliban are searching houses, killing people. I hear rockets and gunfire. I wish I had the means to escape. We have no electricity, running water or food.

“Tell the world that I am trying to survive but if I couldn’t make it, at least tell my story – a story of a queer Afghan in a war zone that wanted to live.”

The funds raised by the campaign will be distributed to trusted LGBT+ contacts in Afghanistan, helping queer people escape the country by paying for travel, passports, ID cards and temporary housing in the countries they reach.

“One member of our group was born and raised in Afghanistan and is connected to underground LGBT communities across the country, which is who we plan to send money directly to as soon as we reach our goal,” said Sayed.

Click here to donate.

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