Almost 30 LGBT Afghans arrive in the UK after ministers and charities evacuated them from the Taliban-ruled country over safety fears
The first group of almost 30 LGBT Afghans arrived in the UK on Friday after ministers and charities supported their evacuation from the Taliban-run country.
Among the evacuees are students and activists who had repeatedly stood up for equality for the at-risk LGBT community in Afghanistan, the Foreign, Common and Development Office (FCDO) said.
The 29 people will be supported by Stonewall, Micro Rainbow and other LGBT charities to set up their new lives in the UK.
Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said Britain would continue to defend ‘the right of all people to be themselves and love who they want’.
Pictured: A member of Border Force staff assists a female evacuee as refugees arrive from Afghanistan at Heathrow Airport on August 26, 2021 in London (file photo). The first batch of almost 30 LGBT Afghans arrived in the UK on Friday after ministers and charities supported their evacuation from the Taliban-run country
The FCDO said lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people were being rescued from Afghanistan because they are at risk of potential discrimination and assault as a result of the Taliban takeover following Nato’s exit from the central Asian country in the summer.
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.
Officials said the Foreign Secretary, along with UK and Canadian organisations Stonewall and Rainbow Railroad, had intervened to ensure this first group of LGBT arrivals safe passage to the UK this week.
Ms Truss, who is also minister for women and equalities, 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.’
Further vulnerable LGBT Afghans are expected to arrive in the UK in the coming months.
The people will be supported by Stonewall, Micro Rainbow and other LGBT charities to set up their new lives in the UK, with Foreign Secretary Liz Truss (pictured Wednesday) saying Britain would continue to defend ‘the right of all people to be themselves and love who they want’
Nancy Kelley, chief executive of Stonewall, said her organisation had been campaigning to bring vulnerable Afghans to the UK for the ‘last few months’ and vowed to continue to push for international support to help those still in the Taliban-ruled country.
‘We are proud that our campaigning and collaboration has resulted in the first group of LGBTQ+ Afghans arriving here in the UK to resettle and rebuild their lives, and for LGBTQ+ people to be recognised as a priority group for resettlement,’ said Ms Kelley.
The UK Government said the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme (ACRS) would remain open to provide protection for people at risk.
The scheme will, the FCDO said, prioritise those who have assisted the UK efforts in Afghanistan and stood up for values such as democracy, women’s rights, freedom of speech, and the rule of law.
Pictured: Afghan evacuees are seen inside a military plane on August 22. 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
It will also focus on evacuating vulnerable people, including women, girls and members of minority groups at risk.
Under Taliban rule, LGBT people are among the most vulnerable in Afghanistan, with many facing increased levels of persecution, discrimination and assault, the UK government said.
Thousands of Afghans fled the country in August after the Taliban – a hard-line Islamist group – took control of the country following the withdrawal of US and other Western forces in the war-torn country.
The UK evacuated many of those looking to flee the country on planes in the Kabul Airlift, that saw planes fly people out between August 15 and August 30.