First group of LGBT+ Afghans gets evacuated by UK since Taliban’s takeover
- The group includes students and activists
- During the previous rule of Islamic Emirate in Afghanistan reports surfaced of gay individuals being stoned to death in public executions
- The LGBT+ group rescued on Friday will be housed in a bridging facility
The first-ever group of 29 LGBT+ people from Afghanistan landed in the United Kingdom as a consequence of interventions by UK foreign minister Liz Truss and gay rights organisations, according to Reuters.
“The first group of LGBT Afghans to be helped by the UK Government to leave Afghanistan since the end of the evacuation arrived in Britain on Friday to start their new lives,” according to an official statement on Saturday.
The group includes students and activists who have advocated for the LGBT+ community's equality in the war-torn country, according to the statement.
Thousands of civilians, including women, members of the LGBT+ community, and officials from the previous administration, have attempted to flee Afghanistan since the Taliban took control in August, with many of them unable to board foreign government evacuation flights.
During the previous rule of Islamic Emirate in Afghanistan, from 1996 to 2001, reports surfaced of gay individuals being stoned to death in public executions.
According to Reuters, a UK foreign ministry official stated that the LGBT+ group rescued on Friday will be housed in a bridging facility. Meanwhile, the government has promised that more vulnerable LGBT+ people from Afghanistan would be arriving in the UK in the coming months.
“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,” UK foreign minister Truss said in an official statement on Saturday.
According to Sebastian Rocca, chief executive of Micro Rainbow, a charity that supports LGBT+ migrants, safe shelters are being constructed for Afghans who arrived on Friday.
Stonewall, a British gay rights organisation, and Rainbow Railroad, a Canadian gay rights group, were among those who helped in the evacuation.
“However, our work is not yet done. We will continue advocating for international support for LGBTQ+ Afghans, including those that remain in Afghanistan, and we will also continue to work with the UK Government to ensure that the LGBTQ+ Afghans who arrive in the UK are given the support they need to thrive,” Nancy Kelley, chief executive of Stonewall, said.
“Under the UK’s Operation Pitting, which ended in late August, the government has assisted more than 1,300 people, including Afghan civilians and British nationals, to leave Afghanistan,” the official also said.