In Afghanistan, LGBT people face risks from Taliban insurgents, Afghani law, and even their own families. But things must not be all bad, according to the British Home Office. After all, if an obscure Afghan cultural custom allows pedophilic relationships between men and boys, then there must be more tolerance for homosexuality than previously thought.
The British Home Office, which is in charge of the country’s immigration, just issued a new set of guidelines that endorse the deportation of Afghan gays who have sought refuge in England. Afghanistan regularly jails and even executes male homosexuals.
But the British government of new Prime Minister Theresa May says the gay refugees might be over-reacting. The documents, recently detailed by The Guardian, argue that the recent decline in arrests means that Afghanistan is safe for gay men. Furthermore, the government points to the practice of bacha bazi, a broad term that refers to pedophilic relationships between men and young boys, suggesting the practice proves the tolerance of the culture.
Even the Home Office’s own Afghanistan unit came out against the decision, stating bluntly that “homosexuality remains wholly taboo” in the country.
“We are deeply concerned at the suggestion that the prevalence, especially in the Pashtun community, of the practice of bacha bazi implies an acceptance of certain homosexual conduct,” the Afghanistan unit states in a dissenting document.
And for all of those who would be deported by the new guidelines, the Home Office offers advice as regressive as any in Afghanistan: just pretend to be straight.