Last update: April 2022
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.
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 2.13.1 Violence against children: overview. Same-sex activity is punishable with death under the Sharia. Incidents of physical violence against LGBTIQ individuals had been reported under the former Afghan government [Society-based targeting, 4.1].
Targeting and extrajudicial punishment by insurgent groups have also taken place in the past and after the recent takeover of Taliban. Following the takeover, members of the LGBTIQ community reportedly lived in fear for their lives, many went into hiding, and hundreds of them wanted to flee out of fear for their lives. Some transwomen reportedly felt forced to grow beards to hide their gender identity, and lesbian women were under pressure to act ‘more feminine’. There were also allegations of street attacks and threats over the phone on LGBTIQ persons. Although killings involving LGBTIQ Afghans could not be ‘independently verified’, sources reported on allegations of the beheading of a gay man and noted that a gay man had allegedly been killed by the Taliban after gay material was found on his mobile phone during a checkpoint search. There were also claims that the Taliban have a ‘kill list’ for members of the LGBTIQ community and that they seemed to complement these lists through data leaks and entrapment. For example, individuals had reportedly received emails asking for personal data and claiming to be connected with a LGBTIQ organisation. It was also said that Taliban were attempting to trick gay men by contacting them on social media and offering ways to escape from Afghanistan [Country Focus 2022, 2.10; Society-based targeting, 4.1].
While the Taliban did not address the rights of LGBTIQ people during the first days after the takeover, on 29 October 2021, a ministry spokesman stated that human rights will be respected within the framework of Islamic law, but this does not include LGBTIQ rights as that is against Sharia law [Country Focus 2022, 2.10].
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].
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.
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.
 CJEU, X, Y and Z, paras. 70-76.