Starting at 8 a.m. on Sunday, Oct. 31, Ziad Reslan began walking nearly 40 miles from San Francisco to Mountain View to raise money for LGBTQ+ Afghans and refugees who have been affected by the Taliban’s takeover in Afghanistan two months ago.
Despite a coalition of U.S. troops and their allies airlifting over 100,000 people out of Afghanistan in August, many Afghans who identify as LGBTQ+ were unable to flee and remain in the country fearing persecution.
“Of all the bad news we've gotten over the last two years, nothing has been harder to hear than what happened in Afghanistan,” Reslan said.
According to a March 2021 report by the Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law, consensual same-sex conduct is criminalized in as many as 69 countries, and when people are convicted, at least 10 countries still use the death penalty.
Reslan, who grew up in Beirut with a Syrian father and Lebanese mother, came to the U.S. at age 17. As an out gay man, he said he's been thinking of the LGBTQ+ refugees whose experiences have been much harder, “with so many countries criminalizing their very existence.” His walk he said, is an “ode” to the many miles refugees must cross every day to get to safety.