By Edwin Mora
Homosexuals in Afghanistan are forced to live in fear and secrecy to avoid being kidnapped, robbed, beaten up, blackmailed, arbitrarily arrested in what police describe as “honey traps,” and murdered by relatives in “honor killings,” reports the Associated Press (AP), citing first-hand accounts by various Afghan gay men.
Nevertheless, the prevalent sexual abuse of young boys by powerful men in Afghanistan, an ancient Afghan custom known as bacha bazi (“playing with boys”), is culturally sanctioned.
Under the Taliban regime, the practice had been considered a capital offense, punishable by death.
However, the practice has been “resurrected” since the U.S.-led invasion in 2001 overthrew the terrorist group’s regime, according to the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), an independent U.S. watchdog.
Current law dictates that bacha bazi perpetrators could be executed, but only if the boy dies.
“Yet the ‘bacha bazi,’ as the sponsors are known, are rarely punished for the years of abuse they commit against the dancing boys, and it is not unusual to see older men in public with their young sex slaves,” reveals AP.
“While the boys themselves can carry the stigma of their [bacha bazi] days throughout their lives, their sponsors, most of them married with children, are not regarded as homosexual, and their actions are often justified with the saying ‘women are for children, boys are for fun,’” adds the news service.
Members of the U.S.-trained Afghan National Defense and Security Forces (ANDSF), which includes police and army units, have been accused of engaging in the centuries-old practice.
Meanwhile, homosexuals share with the AP how difficult it is for them to come out in public and meet other gay men for casual sex without risking their life and freedom.
The AP quotes Khalil Rahman Sarwary, a psychology lecturer at Kabul University, as saying gay men suffer from psychological problems and unhappiness when they are “forced to marry and have children” because they are too afraid of being discovered as gay.
In some cases, homosexual men reach a point of frustration where they end up murdering their wives.
To be homosexual in Afghanistan is to live in fear. Naveed and Rameen, young gay men in the capital Kabul have lost count of the number of times they’ve been lured into dangerous situations on what they believed to be dates.
Both men describe being robbed, beaten up and blackmailed, and receiving death threats. They’ve even eluded police “honey traps” that could have seen them thrown in prison without charge, simply on suspicion of being gay.
They know they could be killed, with impunity, if they reveal their sexuality.
AP identifies the gay men by one name only, pointing out that Afghan gay men use fake names to keep their sexual orientation hidden from relatives and colleagues.
After coming out as a homosexual, Zabi became an “honor killing” victim, murdered by his family, according to his gay friend Rameen.
“He was shaming the family by being open about it. They stabbed him so many times,” he told AP. “It was a warning for us, for other gays. Now we keep to ourselves; we live a hidden life. And a hidden life is no life at all.”
“Honor killings” usually refer to the murder of women deemed to have tarnished their family reputation through some perceived violation of Sharia law. However, some men have also been victims of such killings.
Although “honor killings” are mainly (87 percent) a Muslim-on-Muslim crime, Hindus and Sikhs in India as well as members of the Yazidi minority in Iraq have also been identified as perpetrators, best-selling author, lecturer, columnist, and retired psychotherapist Dr. Phyllis Chesler told Breitbart News in September 2015, adding that both women and men are capable of carrying out murders of “honor.”
Naveed, 24, told the AP he had almost ended up kidnapped by a man he met at one of the major hotels in the Afghan capital of Kabul after they shared phone numbers at a doctor’s waiting room.
The 24-year-old said, “He seemed nice, and he was quite handsome, so I thought: why not? But it was a set up; he tried to kidnap me. He drove me to a place where a gang of men were waiting with guns — I’m sure they would have killed me, but I ran away.”
Muslim-majority Afghanistan, a U.S. ally that has received billions in American taxpayer funds for nation-building efforts, including judicial reforms and the development of Sharia law, remains a conservative, religious society 15 years after the U.S. military dethroned the Taliban regime.
Taliban militants and other jihadists groups that operate in Afghanistan revile the LGBT community as abhorrent to Islam.
The terrorist group has meted out brutal death sentences for homosexual behavior.
Sex outside marriage and homosexuality have been criminalized in Afghanistan.
“‘Pederasty,’ which is understood to refer to sodomy or sex between an adult man and a boy, is punishable by 5 to 20 years in prison, according to the Justice Ministry,” notes the AP. “The death sentence can be applied if the subject dies as a result of the act.”