Gay Afghan student ‘murdered by Taliban’ as anti-LGBTQ+ violence rises

The Guardian
Tue 18 Oct 2022
Death of Hamed Sabouri is latest in wave of attacks, with rights groups warning thousands are in hiding or trying to flee country

The abduction, torture and murder of a gay medical student, who was stopped at a traffic checkpoint by Taliban gunmen, is the latest victim of a string of violence against Afghanistan’s LGBTQ+ community, human rights groups warn.

Hamed Sabouri’s family and partner says he was detained at a checkpoint in Kabul in August and tortured for three days before being shot. Video of his execution was then sent to his family, who have now left Afghanistan for their own safety.

“The Taliban murdered Hamed and sent the video to his family and me,” said Bahar, Sabouri’s partner. “Hamed’s family have fled and I have been in hiding. We were like any other couple around the world in love but the Taliban treat us like criminals. They’ve killed the love of my life and I don’t know how I’ll live without him.

“I have been receiving threats from the Taliban again and I am now on the run. I have many friends from the LGBTQ+ community here in Afghanistan who have also keen kidnapped and tortured. I was arrested by the Taliban in August 2021 and again in May and June this year and was raped, beaten and tortured with electric shocks.”

LGBTQ+ rights organisations in Afghanistan say the mounting violence led many in the LGBTQ+ community to attempt to leave the country and forced thousands of others into hiding.

“The biggest fear that every LGBTQ+ person in Afghanistan has right now is that they will become the next Hamed Sabouri,” said Nemat Sadat, founder of LGBTQ+ rights group Roshaniya.

“This has been their predicament ever since the Taliban returned to power. The news of Hamed’s brutal death continues to put our community on edge but we won’t let Hamed’s life go in vain. We will continue to fight for the rights of LGBTQ+ Afghans to escape execution and live a long, and happy life in a free country.”

In an email Haseeb Sabouri, Hamed’s brother, confirmed that the family sold their two homes in Afghanistan and travelled to Turkey. “We fled from Afghanistan due to threats and murder of Hamed,” he said. “We fled because the Taliban came to our home every day to harass and threaten us.”

Gay Afghan student ‘murdered by Taliban’ as anti-LGBTQ+ violence rises