After the fall of Kabul to the Taliban in August 2021, the UK government made a promise to take in those who had helped UK forces during the war, and those most vulnerable to persecution.
But many of the most at-risk, including “thousands” of LGBT+ Afghans, were left behind, according to Nemat Sadat, the executive director of LGBT+ charity Roshaniya.
Speaking to the Sky News Daily podcast with Niall Paterson, Sadat, who left Afghanistan in 2013 after hostility to his sexuality, said that “there’s really no future left for LGBT+ people in Afghanistan”.
Homosexuality is currently illegal under Afghanistan’s Islamic law, and transgender people are not recognised by the state. The punishment for being gay is the death penalty.
“It’s the probably the worst place to be an LGBT+ person. And under the Taliban rule, under Sharia law, the Taliban are continuing to entrap LGBT+ people. Once they find an LGBT+ person, they torture them,” Sadat continued.
“And they tell us, if you want this torture to end, you have to basically present us with your entire network of LGBT+ people, give us their names, give us their contact information so we can track and find them.”
One gay man still in Afghanistan is 23-year-old Arseen. We’ve changed his name to protect his identity.
He told the Sky News Daily: “I’m escaping from my own family right now because my uncles, they are religious leaders, they beat me.”
He described how, despite Afghanistan being hostile to the LGBT+ community before, at least he could continue with his life. Now, Arseen lives in hiding, after losing his work and then university placement, for fear of being outed. “I’m losing my hope for my future. The Taliban, they destroyed every chance [of one].”
Both Arseen and Sadat accuse the UK government of not doing enough to support and protect LGBT+ Afghans.
One of the schemes designed to help resettle Afghans in the UK following the Taliban takeover is the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme. Among the scheme’s priority groups are LGBT+ people.
The Sky News Daily asked the Home Office, which runs the scheme, for a response. It directed Sky News to the Foreign Office.
An FCDO spokesperson said: “The UK was one of the first countries since the fall of Kabul to facilitate a safe relocation route for at-risk LGBT+ Afghans. Many are already in the UK, while some have been relocated to other safe countries or are undergoing processing in third countries for relocation to the UK. We will continue to do all we can to help at-risk LGBT+ Afghans.”
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