Eyewitnesses in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan allege government operatives are harassing and imprisoning LGBTQ people.

Nemat Sadat, a gay Afghan living in the U.S., has heard the Taliban is targeting gay men because of monkeypox.

Sadat tweeted that the Taliban think gay people have monkeypox. “They’re sizing up the gorgeous men in the room on their phones.”

Sadat said the Lycée Mariam and Khairkhana districts are hotbeds of homophobic harassment.

Monkeypox, generally seen in Central and West Africa, has recently spread to Europe, Australia, and the U.S. Most cases involve gay men. Public health officials say these networks could spread monkeypox through intimate contact.

Afghanistan hasn’t seen any cases yet.

“They scan people’s phones and take them away if they have the least sign they’re gay anyplace they see handsome men in local clothes,” said a Kabul gay man.

Now they say it’s to stop monkeypox.

Six Taliban raped a man’s friend. “He’s mentally ill and escaped Kabul,” he said. The Taliban dislike fashion. They threaten all gays after being jailed. They should wear local clothes, not shave, and “do anything they want,” they said.

I’ve started wearing local apparel. I don’t take my phone outside. Before leaving the house, I finish my homework. Their checkpoints are dangerous.

When monkeypox originally spread, the WHO described a “low public danger.” This month’s warning was upgraded to “moderate.”

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