The Taliban has a “kill list” for Afghanistan’s LGBTQ+ community in the country, according to NGO Rainbow Railroad.
LGBTQ+ citizens have been fearing for their safety since the Taliban’s takeover of Afghanistan in August, with many living in hiding to protect themselves.
Despite there being no official announcement from the group on how they plan to deal with homosexuality, Reuters reports that there are fears strict sharia law could be imposed – meaning same-sex relations could be punishable by death.
Rainbow Railroad, an LGBTQ+ organisation on the ground in the country, has been leading efforts to help Afghans.
“Since the fall of Kabul, Rainbow Railroad has been leading efforts to find safety for LGBTQI+ Afghans facing grave danger,” said Kimahli Powell, Executive Director of Rainbow Railroad in a statement on 29 October. “In partnership with others, we have directly relocated dozens of persons to safer countries where they can live lives free of state-directed persecution.
“Rainbow Railroad is thankful for the strong advocacy of Stonewall UK and for the UK Government, which helped facilitate the arrival of these LGBTQI+ persons. This is just the beginning of our efforts to help hundreds of LGBTQI+ individuals we are supporting in Afghanistan relocate to safety.”
Despite this, many members of the community remain in the region fearing for their lives.
“This is a really scary time to be in Afghanistan,” Powell told FRANCE 24 in a telephone interview.
“We now know for sure the Taliban has a ‘kill list’ circulating, identifying LBTQI+ persons.”
According to Powell, the group most likely utilised the weeks leading up to the US withdrawal to pay attention to the names of people foreign bodies were trying to evacuate.
“After the fall of Kabul, there was a lot of information sharing,” Powell noted, adding that many of these vulnerable people were left in the country.
He continued: “[Some] individuals who have reached out to us have told us about how they’ve received a mystery email from someone claiming to be connected with Rainbow Railroad asking for their information and passport. That’s how we know the information has been leaked.”
Since the end of Operation Pitting in late August, the UK has helped more than 1,300 people, including British and Afghan nationals, to leave Afghanistan.
Foreign Secretary and Minister for Women and Equalities, Liz Truss said: “Britain is a fierce champion of freedom and the right of all people to be themselves and love who they want free from persecution.
“We played a key role getting these people out and will continue to do all we can to help at-risk Afghans leave the country.”
The government hopes that this will be the first of many LGBTQ+ Afghans starting new lives in the UK, with more expected to arrive in the UK in the coming months.
Among the first arrivals are students and activists who have repeatedly stood up for equality for the LGBT+ community in Afghanistan.
They will be supported by Rainbow Railroad, Stonewall, Micro Rainbow and other LGBTQ+ charities to set up their new lives.