28 Nov 2022

Taliban punishes 'gay sex' with public lashings

Thousands of people watched the punishment, staged in a football stadium.



The Taliban have flogged a group of people in a crowded football stadium for “moral crimes” including gay sex.
Twelve people, including three women, were lashed in front of thousands of onlookers in the eastern Logar province, a Taliban official has informed the BBC. 
According to the source they were punished for “sins” including “adultery, robbery, and gay sex”.
The people flogged received between 21 and 39 lashes each, with the maximum a person can receive being 39, another Taliban official shared.
It comes a week after the Taliban’s supreme leader, Hibatullah Akhundzada, announced the group would be “implementing sharia law” in full force across the country.
The islamic law enforces punishments such as public executions, stoning, floggings and the amputation of limbs for thieves.
Under Sharia law same-sex sexual activity is prohibited and can be punished by the death penalty.
The recent floggings resemble the group’s previous rule from 1996 to 2001, when it was condemned for carrying out public executions, stoning and floggings at the national stadium in Kabul.
The flogging in Logar province follows 19 people being flogged in a similar way in the Takhar province in northern Afghanistan just last week.
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It also comes after the Taliban promised a “softer” version of its regime, but since the group’s return to rule last year reports of public floggings have been rife.
Since the group’s rule it has continued to destroy women’s freedoms by banning them from entering parks, funfairs, gyms and public baths, with women saying they were beaten for standing up of their rights.
A 22-year-old gay man was previously shot dead by the Taliban in Afghanistan because of his sexuality. 
Hamed Sabouri, from Kabul, was killed in August, local activists told PinkNews. 
He was reportedly kidnapped by the Taliban and a video showing his murder sent to his family days later.
Nemat Sadat, an Afghan activist who is fighting to have LGBTQ+ people evacuated from the country, told PinkNews that Sabouri’s death is the result of inaction from western governments, many of which have failed to take in adequate numbers of fleeing Afghans.

The Taliban have reportedly flogged a group of people in a crowded football stadium for “moral crimes” including gay sex.

Taliban officials have informed the BBC that 12 people were lashed in front of thousands of onlookers in the eastern Logar province.

The people flogged received between 21 and 39 lashes each, with the maximum a person can receive being 39 - according to reporting. The public punishments indicate a strengthening of the Taliban's commitment to enforce Sharia law across the country.


It's yet another reminder that LGBTQ people are at extreme risk of persecution and death in Afghanistan - a risk that significantly increased since the Taliban returned to power in 2021.

Local people report having their phones searched, as the authorities try to identify LGBTQ people through their social networks.

What’s life like for LGBTQ people in Afghanistan?

Is homosexuality legal in Afghanistan?

No. It was illegal under the Penal Code of the previous government. It is also illegal under the Sharia law applied by the Taliban.

Homosexuality is seen as a taboo subject, and something that goes against the Islamic religion which is the official religion of Afghanistan.

Anyone accused of being homosexual is at risk of being killed.

Is there any legal recognition of same-sex relationships in Afghanistan?

Unsurprisingly, there is no legal recognition of same-sex relationships in Afghanistan.

Are there any discrimination protections for LGBTQ people in Afghanistan?

Because of the criminalisation of homosexuality, and the socially-conservative nature of Afghan society, there are no protections available to people on the basis of sexuality.

The contradiction of prostitution

While homosexuality is taboo, there is a history of younger men being used as prostitutes – or dancing boys – to satisfy the sexual needs of older men. The boys are trained to dance seductively at men-only parties.

This is seen as a Persian custom, known as Bacha Bazi – boy play. It’s partly driven by the strict social rules surrounding interaction between men and women.

Despite Bacha Bazi being illegal under Afghan law, authorities are unable to end the practice because many of those involved are influential men. To these men, keeping a bacha baireesh – a boy without beard – is a sign of power and high social status.

In the 1990s, bacha bazi was outlawed by the Taliban, with sodomy, dancing and music carrying the death penalty – although the militant group have been accused of participating in the practice themselves.

The Boy Who Danced on Air

Created in 2017 by Charlie Sohne and Tim Rosser, The Boy Who Danced on Air is a musical that explores the world of the dancing boys of Afghanistan.

The musical is a love story between a 16-year-old boy, Paiman, and another young boy caught in the same bacha bazi practice.

It’s been criticised for glorifying the Bacha Bazi practice and distorting the experience of queer people in Afghanistan.