Yuval David
Filmmaker, Director, Actor, Host, Activist and Advocate

How to help the LGBT community in Afghanistan and beyond

Since the Taliban took power of Afghanistan, many lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people have been desperately seeking aid, safety, hiding, and trying to flee the country. Life in Afghanistan for LGBT people increasingly becomes more desperate, threatening their safety and their lives.

I have been communicating directly with LGBT people and aiding in getting them out of the situations they are in and into safe in other countries. In conjunction with the White House, the State Department, Freedom House, Dignity for All, and the Rainbow Railroad, we are aiming to assist and save these people in need.

Most of those people I have been in touch with report being attacked, threatened, sexually assaulted, bullied, and blackmailed by members of the Taliban because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. Others also report abuse from their own family members, neighbors, and community leaders. Most of those people are still in Afghanistan, yet there are those who managed to flee to nearby countries, where they remain in danger, including of being forcibly returned. Those who have been resettled in countries where they feel safe are the lucky ones.

A backlog of over 1,600 LGBT people are still seeking to be evacuated. As they wait, most are in hiding, some have fled their homes from attacks by Taliban members or supporters pursuing them. Others watch as the lives they had built disappeared, now finding themselves at risk of being targeted at any time because of their sexual orientation or gender identity.

Afghanistan was a dangerous place for LGBT people even before the Taliban took over the country again. Same-sex relations were explicitly criminalized. They would face abuses, including rape, forced marriage, physical violence, expulsion from schools, firing from workplaces, blackmail, and having to hide their identities.

When the Taliban recaptured the country and gained control in 2021, the situation for LGBT people worsened under the even more extreme Taliban fundamentalist Islamic law. The danger now facing LGBT people in Afghanistan, is a life completely devoid of legal protections, and ruled by authorities that explicitly pledged not to tolerate or accept LGBT people.

Most of those I have spoken with believe the only path to safest is to relocate to a country with greater protections for the rights of LGBT people. But, to date, few LGBT Afghans escaping Afghanistan are known to have reached a safe country. LGBT people face unique barriers to fleeing and relocating. Gender nonconforming individuals are afraid to go to the country’s passport offices or pass through checkpoints on public roads for fear of being spotted by Taliban. Women are prohibited from traveling without male relatives, so lesbian and bisexual women cannot escape on their own. The LGBT Afghans who have conformed or were forced to social expectations to marry a different-sex partner have children, and they do not want to abandon or uproot their families. And, many who have some family support are unwilling to leave their families behind for fear of retribution from the Taliban and their supporters.

The nearest countries to flee to are Iran, Pakistan, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan — all of these countries criminalize same-sex relations, and according to Sharia Law, the crime of being LGBT is punishable by death.

Evacuation will not be an option for most LGBT Afghans. The risk of facing persecution is too horrid on any grounds to obtain the documentation and financial resources needed to leave the country. How do we help those who want to leave the country and how do we help those who are unable to leave?

We must take action, continue to help evacuate them and sneak them out. We must also use our might against the Taliban and sharia law that abuses LGBT people. Our actions might ensure the rights of those who are facing human rights atrocities. We must urge the United Nations and concerned governments to use their leverage with the Taliban to revise laws and regulations, and at least to let the victims out of Afghanistan.

The priority of organizations and individuals to help LGBT Afghans must be focused and refocused to ensure we can help those in need. International donors and aid agencies should make delivering services that assist and protect LGBT people a priority, even when Taliban abuses complicate doing so.

About the Author
Yuval David – Biography Actor, Host, Filmmaker, Advocate and Activist Yuval David is a celebrated and award-winning actor, host, director, and filmmaker. His creative mantra "to entertain, uplift and inspire" shapes his approach to “storytelling with boldness, vulnerability, and authenticity in representing characters and narratives.” As a filmmaker, Yuval directs, writes, and produces feature length and short films, documentaries, web-series as well as digital and episodic TV content. He currently is directing a feature length documentary that already has been getting industry and media buzz, even before it is released. Yuval’s series, “One Actor Short” have become an award winner and festival favorite, earning more than 75 awards from national and international festivals, including American Picture, Atlanta Film Festival, The Big Apple Film Festival, Global Webisode Festival, NYC Independent Film Festival, New Filmmakers Film Festival, Hollywood Just4Shorts Film Competition, IndieFest, Prague International Film Festival, Top Shorts Film Festival, and Vegas CineFest International Film Festival. Yuval’s other narrative and documentary films and episodic series, including web-series, have also been awarded numerous awards, including Best Film, Best Short, Best Series, and for Yuval specifically as Best Director, Best Actor, Best Producer, and Best Writer in national and international film festivals. As an actor, Yuval plays leading roles in film, television, theatre, web and digital media, as well as voice overs. His acting roles include leading and guest star roles on NBC, ABC, CBS, Showtime, Disney, DreamWorks, Comedy Central, countless independent films, Broadway, Off-Broadway, theatres across the US and abroad, including film festivals and theatre festivals. Yuval has dazzled audiences with his roles on hit television shows, including “Madam Secretary” (CBS), “The Michael J. Fox Show” (NBC), “Days of Our Lives” (NBC), and “What Would You Do?” (ABC), “Unforgettable” (CBS), and “The Plot Against America” (HBO). Yuval’s leading and supporting roles in films include “Beauty and the Beast,” “Nephilim,” “Incipient,” “Awakening of Spring,” “You,” and “The Fifth Estate.” His acting roles in theatre range from contemporary to classic theatrical works, including: Broadway in “The Game;” Off-Broadway in “Romeo and Juliet,” “Leaving an Impression,” “Daddy Issues,” “Bunburry,” and “In The Swing.” As much as possible, Yuval enjoys performing in regional theatres across the United States and abroad, in addition to international theatre festivals. Yuval regularly does voice overs for animation, commercials, narration, documentaries, and industrials. As a TV host and presenter, Yuval focuses on societal, humanitarian, food, travel, cultural and entertainment programming. His work is seen on network television, documentary films, web series, and regularly at live events. He also regularly is a host and MC for special events, galas, and advocacy events for social and political initiatives, institutions, and organizations, especially those focusing on US, Israel, LGBTQ, Arts, Humanitarian, and Cultural causes. In addition to his work in entertainment and media, Yuval is a passionate advocate and activist. Advocacy for the marginalized and under-represented is a driving force, along with his focus on Jewish, LGBTQ, humanitarian, arts and creative initiatives. He uses his creative work as a vehicle for the greater good on behalf of highly respected American, Israeli, and international organizations. Throughout Yuval’s advocacy work with organizations, he is brought in as a keynote speaker, workshop leader, and panelist for discussions regarding: -Art for Social Change -Creative Advocacy -Identity Politics -Marginalized identities and self-empowerment -Jewish Identity -Zionism & Israel -Jewish representation in Entertainment and Media -Jewish, Zionist, and Israeli advocacy within Progressive movements -LGBTQ Identity and Representation -Content Creation -Self-Expression and Self-Empowerment -Storytelling within Entertainment and Media Yuval advocates for all marginalized communities through his creative work and social action, supporting the organizations below. - Embassy of Israel to the United States: Keynote Speaker. - Consulate General of Israel in New York: Speaker, Panelist, and MC for events and initiatives. - Shoah Foundation: Speaker and panelist for events and initiatives. Member of the Creative Council, expanding the reach through new content creation incorporating testimonies filmed by The Shoah Foundation. - Jewish National Fund: Host & Director of Documentary Content, Speaker and MC - Jewish Council for Public Affairs: Speaker and Event MC. Host of video content. - Keren Kayemet: Speaker and panelist. - Stand With Us: Narrator and Host of documentary videos and social media content. Speaker and Panelist. - American Israel Cultural Foundation: Member, Performing Artist, and Speaker - Chabad: Speaker and Panelist. - The Jewish Learning Institute: Speaker and Panelist. - End Jew Hatred: Keynote Speaker, Workshop Leader. - Zikaron BaSalon: Keynote speaker, Advocacy Partner. - JewBelong: Speaker. Member of Board of Directors. - The Aguda, the Israeli LGBTQ rights organization: speaker, panelist, and host of events, including advocating on joint initiatives. - A Wider Bridge: Speaker, MC, and advocate for the organization, connecting Israeli and American LGBTQ communities. Member of the Leadership Council. - National LGBTQ Task Force: Speaker and Workshop Leader at annual Creating Change Conference; Advocate and Speaker at numerous events, including advocating to elected officials about LGBTQ initiatives; National Leadership Council; Host and Director of Documentary Video Content. - GLAAD: Partner for advocacy initiatives in press/media. - Lambda Legal: Speaker and host - Covenant House NY: Speaker at events for homeless youth. - Rainbow Railroad: Organizational Ambassador, advocating on behalf of LGBTQ people in need of rescue. - Freedom House: Advocate and actively aiding in helping LGBTQ people and other marginalized people escape persecution and human rights atrocities. - The Giving Group Community: Founding Member. Philanthropy connected to Israel. - Guest speaker, panelist, and workshop leader for Jewish organizations. Please find samples of his advocacy work and speaking engagements below: Advocacy. Speaking clips. Jewish and Israeli Causes. LGBTQ Causes. Social Journalism. You can view more on Yuval and his work at these links below:
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