One year far from home
Afghan LGBT

One year far from home

29 Aug 2022

Basira, a 24-year-old activist campaigning for the rights of the Afghan LGBTQI community, always believed the West had her back. She is too young to remember the Taliban’s previous rule; she was only a toddler when U.S. forces invaded her country.

 

When the Taliban swept to power last August, she took to the streets of Kabul in protest. She received invitations from several Western nations offering refuge, but she didn’t want to leave the country that had given her so much. “I was sure the international community wouldn’t abandon us,” she says. “But I was wrong.” She soon realized her life was in danger, and hid for two months before leaving for Ireland, concealed in a burqa.

 

Now living in a small Dublin apartment, she feels isolated and afraid as she grapples with her newfound liberation. Irish Prime Minister Micheal Martin gave her a private audience during Pride Week in June, but Basira spoke on condition that only her first name is used, worried for her family’s safety back home. She is also wary of abuse from fellow Afghans, even in Dublin. From Ireland, she continues to battle for the freedoms of LGBTQI people—both back home and those around the world.

 

What do you miss most about Afghanistan?

 

I miss Afghan children, especially my nieces and nephews. After leaving, I dream I am still in Afghanistan. In my dreams I am running, I am protesting; every night I am there. I blame myself sometimes for leaving, for coming here. But then I saw I can work harder and more effectively from outside. I see the girls who are still in Afghanistan, and how they have lost hope. But that hope exists in my heart.

 

What has surprised you about where you live now?

 

Ireland is a paradise for the LGBTQI community. We have a lot of LGBTQI people from around the world who are asylum seekers and refugees. They came here to find a peaceful home.

 

What do you do to relax?

 

I listen to music, I study, I cook food, I write. I love to put on makeup, because it gives me self-confidence.

 

When you think of Afghanistan’s future, what comes to mind?

 

Afghanistan will absolutely get worse and worse. Afghanistan is also suffering a lot from climate change, from earthquakes and floods. No support is coming, so poverty is increasing day by day.

 

What food from home do you eat most often?

 

I cook Kabuli pilau. Luckily there are a lot of Asian shops here, so I can find the right ingredients and spices.

 

What is the most treasured thing you brought with you?

 

My skills are the most important things I brought with me from Afghanistan. My university diploma is also very special to me. I brought it in a folder in my suitcase.

 

What word do you associate with the Taliban?

 

Terror.

 

Where do you see yourself in one year?

 

I want to continue raising the voice of Afghan women, as well as the LGBTQI community back home, through our organization Afghan LGBT.

 

Choose one word to describe yourself.

 

I call myself the sultan. I prefer to be a leader than a boss. That’s why I am a sultan. Since I was little, I have been the only one looking after me. My life has been my empire. I made it all.

 

 

 

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