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Last update: December 2020
*Minor updates added November 2021

This profile refers to persons who are perceived as not conforming to social norms because of their sexual orientation and/or gender identity, including the treatment of lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, non-binary, intersex and queer (LGBTIQ) individuals. However, it should be noted that specific information on some of those communities was not available in the COI reports used for the purpose of this guidance.

COI summary

In Afghan society, sexuality is not a concept that is discussed. Therefore, little information can be obtained about LGBTIQ individuals and their position in society [Society-based targeting, 4].

For issues related to the practice of bacha bazi, which is not considered homosexuality in Afghan society, please see the subsection 2.8.1 Violence against children: overview.

Same-sex activity is punishable under the Sharia. It was also criminalised under the previous Penal Code. It could be punished by death penalty. Although the Afghan State did not implement the death penalty for consensual same-sex acts between adults in private, imprisonment and police harassment, including robbing and rape of gay men, was reported [Society-based targeting, 4.1].

Targeting and extrajudicial punishment by insurgent groups also took place. In 2015, it was reported that the Taliban had sentenced two men and a teenager to execution for homosexuality [Society-based targeting, 4.1].

LGBTIQ individuals also face a threat by their family and society. Same-sex practices remain hidden and are highly stigmatised if mentioned publicly. Identifying as having a sexual orientation or identity outside the expected norms of heterosexuality is a societal taboo and is seen as un-Islamic. Sources report discrimination, including in health services and employment, assaults, threats, rape, blackmail, and arrest [Society-based targeting, 4.2].

Although Afghanistan has traditions of a ‘third gender’, where individuals identify outside categories of male and female, these people are not legally recognised and function only at the margins of society [Society-based targeting, 4.2.1].

Risk analysis

The acts to which LGBTIQ individuals could be exposed are of such severe nature that they would amount to persecution (e.g. rape, execution, killings).

Persecution could be by the Taliban or other armed groups, as well as by the family and/or the society in general, as there is a low societal tolerance in Afghanistan for individuals with sexual or gender identities deviating from the ‘norm’.

It has to be noted that an applicant cannot be expected to conceal their sexual orientation or gender identity.[27]6

In the case of LGBTIQ applicants, in general, well-founded fear of persecution would be substantiated.

Nexus to a reason for persecution

Available information indicates that the persecution of this profile is highly likely to be for reasons of membership of a particular social group, based on a shared characteristic or belief that is so fundamental to the identity of the applicant, that he or she should not be forced to renounce it; and based on their distinct identity in Afghanistan, because they are perceived as being different by the surrounding society. 



[27] CJEU, X, Y and Z, paras. 70-76. [back to text]