The government has been urged to evacuate LGBTQ+ people in Afghanistan who are at risk of being targeted by the Taliban.
A joint letter from two non-profits has urged the government to provide “targeted support” for LGBTQ+ Afghans still in the country.
The heads of Stonewall, the largest LGBTQ+ rights group in Britain, and Rainbow Migration, an LGBTQ+ asylum charity, sent the letter to the Foreign Office and Home Office to demand more support for those at risk of being killed by the Taliban.
It was sent on 24 August and was signed by Stonewall executive director Leila Zadeh and their chief Nancy Kelley, as well as Rainbow Migration.
They asked Dominic Raab to show “leadership in creating the conditions needed for LGBTQ+ Afghans to be evacuated”.
Sexual and gender minorities face grave danger now that the Taliban have control of Afghanistan, as the group typically impose death sentences in the form of “wall-toppling”, stoning and shooting.
Stonewall and Rainbow Migration are hopeful that their letter will result in “humanitarian corridors for the evacuation of LGBTQ+ people, similar to corridors used by the UK Government in other emergency contexts, such as Uganda or the former Yugoslavia.”
They have asked for Raab to have an “urgent meeting” with the non-profits to discuss the dire situation facing the community in the country.
Today we sent a letter to @DominicRaab urging him to make LGBTQ+ Afghans a priority group for evacuation. With @RainbowMigrants, we demand an urgent response that includes LGBTQ+ Afghans as a priority group for immediate assistance. Please RT to support. pic.twitter.com/D4TKt8iNAJ
— Stonewall (@stonewalluk) August 24, 2021
“LGBTQ+ Afghans need our support,” the letter said. “But they will not be able to benefit from the government’s evacuation programme unless they receive targeted support.”
It continued: “We applaud the government’s commitment to resettling those most vulnerable and we look for your assurances that this will include LGBTQ+ people.”
The government has also been asked to consider that LGBTQ+ people seeking asylum may not be able to “readily disclose and evidence their sexual orientation or gender identity”, which should be considered during screening efforts.
The letter comes in the wake of the government announcing its Afghan Citizen’s Resettlement Scheme, which will see 5,000 vulnerable Afghans brought to the UK in its first year.
The Stonewall and Rainbow Migration representatives expressed that they “share concerns that the scale of the planned programme does not come close to the protection needed” for those most at risk.