Words: Jamie Tabberer; picture: Taliban fighters pictured in August 2021 in Kabul (wiki)
LGBTQ groups Stonewall and Rainbow Railroad have written to Prime Minister Boris Johnson and Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab to demand they protect LGBTQ people in Afghanistan.
The open letter, signed by Nancy Kelley, Chief Executive of Stonewall, and Kimahli Powell, Executive Director of Rainbow Railroad, follows the recent takeover of the Afghan capital Kabul by the Taliban, a hardline Islamist movement.
LGBTQ equality charity Stonewall and global non-profit Rainbow Railroad's letter comes as the UK winds down its evacuation operations.
Robbie de Santos, Director of External Affairs at Stonewall (he/him) today told Attitude: "LGBTQI+ Afghans are in extreme danger from persecution under the Taliban and are in urgent need of humanitarian evacuation routes. With news breaking this morning that there is a matter of hours left in the UK evacuation programme, we are working closely with the UK Government to ensure that they do everything in their power to get LGBTQI+ people in Afghanistan out of the country safely."
"Extreme risk of torture and death"
The letter in full reads: "Dear Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary - urgent assistance for LGBTQI+ Afghans today.
"We are writing as leaders of Stonewall and Rainbow Railroad with great urgency regarding the evacuation of LGBTQI+ Afghans from Kabul, who are at extreme risk of torture and death at the hands of the Taliban and already living in fear for their lives.
"We have been working closely with your officials in London who have responded swiftly and sincerely to our concerns for the welfare of LGBTQI+ Afghans and the urgent need to create evacuation routes for them.
"We provided a list compiled by Rainbow Railroad and Stonewall of LGBTQI+ Afghans who are within easy distance of Kabul airport. With news breaking this morning that there is a matter of hours left in the UK evacuation programme, we want to support your team to evacuate as many people on this list as possible.
"We are concerned by a lack of places available on planes. We urge you to private charter planes that will allow identified LGBTQI+ Afghans brave enough to make themselves known to make their way to safety to the UK.
"We are ready to assist in any way that we can. But we need urgent clarity about what the LGBTQI+ Afghans on our list should do today to make their way out of Kabul."
The Taliban, ousted from power in 2001, have since revolted against Afghanistan's Western-backed government. Last month, a Taliban judge has said 10-foot walls will be toppled on men who have gay sex in Taliban-controlled parts of the country.
On Thursday, two explosions at Kabul airport killed at least 103 people, including 13 US military personnel, and wounded 150. The Islamic State group has claimed responsibility for the attacks.