Fear, secrecy and danger a way of life for Afghan homosexuals

On Nov 5, 2016 Tribe LIVE reported: KABUL, Afghanistan — 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. Rameen, 31, tells the story of his friend, Zabi, who was killed by his family after coming out as gay, a so-called “honor killing” usually reserved for young women.

“He was shaming the family by being open about it. They stabbed him so many times,” Rameen said. “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.”

Both men use fake names among gay friends and said none of their relatives or colleagues knows the truth about their sexuality.

Meeting other gay men is difficult as there are no regular gathering places, and the need to be discreet means developing relationships is almost impossible, they said. As a result, most encounters are for casual sex, which can lead to treacherous terrain.

Naveed, 24, said he recently turned up at one of Kabul’s major hotels to get together with a man he’d met in a doctor’s waiting room who had asked for his phone number.

“He seemed nice, and he was quite handsome, so I thought: why not?” Naveed said.

“But it was a setup; 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.”

In Afghanistan’s conservative, religious society, sex outside marriage and same-sex sexual activity are illegal. “Pederasty,” which is understood to refer to sodomy or sex between an adult man and a boy, is punishable by five to 20 years in prison, according to the Justice Ministry. The death sentence can be applied if the subject dies as a result of the act.

Pressure to conform can cause profound distress and “creates a lot of psychological problems for the person themselves and their families,” said Khalil Rahman Sarwary, a psychology lecturer at Kabul University.

“It is difficult for homosexuals to find partners, and if they do, both parties are afraid of being found out,” Sarwary said.

“When the exact needs of a person are not being fulfilled, when a homosexual man is forced to marry and have children, it can lead to terrible unhappiness, divorce, even violence within the family. I know of cases where the frustration has built to the point where the man has even killed his wife.”

Read morea at Fear, secrecy and danger a way of life for Afghan homosexuals | TribLIVE

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