Australia Dithers While UK Takes In 29 LGBT Afghan Refugees Fleeing Taliban

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Taliban fighters in Kabul. Image: Wikimedia Commons

Concerns for LGBTQI Afghan refugees fleeing the Taliban grow, even as the Australian Federal Government is yet to grant a single humanitarian visa to any Afghan refugee, a parliamentary inquiry heard recently. 

According to the BBC, the UK foreign secretary worked with human rights organisations Stonewall and Rainbow Railroad to evacuate 29 LGBTQI persons from Afghanistan. The Australian Government has yet to state if it will follow suit and work to evacuate LGBTQI Afghans. 

In August, the Federal Government said it would offer only 3000 humanitarian visas to Afghan refugees. Comparatively, the United Kingdom said it would accept 20,000 Afghan refugees, whilst Canada committed to granting up to 40,000 visas.

‘Taliban Has A Hit List’

Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews

President of Australia’s Just.Equal, Ivan Hinton-Teoh, has urged the government to provide refuge to LGBTQI Afghans in a letter addressed to the Home Affairs Minister Karen Andrews.

“According to news reports, the Taliban has an LGBTIQA hit-list and many LGBTIQA+ Afghans fear for their lives,” Hinton-Teoh said. “As one of the countries that invaded Afghanistan in the name of freedom, Australia must now fulfil that promise to LGBTIQA+ Afghans.”

Hinton-Teoh referred to the case of Nur Sajat, a transgender woman who recently fled Sharia law in Malaysia and was granted asylum by the Australian Government. In his letter, Hinton-Teoh asked the Minister to “extend the same humanitarian principle to LGBTIQA+ Afghans.”

A Rainbow Railroad

“We would welcome further discussions with the appropriate Australian authorities to implement a plan for providing refuge for LGBTIQA+ Afghans in Australia.”

In an interview with France 24, Executive Director of Rainbow Railroad, Kimahli Powell had described an incident where an individual they were actively working to bring to safety was subjected to a Taliban raid. The Taliban burnt their passport and physically assaulted them. 

Powell explained that the Taliban rule has left LGBTQI Afghans even more vulnerable, with little support or protection as some are being turned in by their own family members for being gay.

“I think everyone’s trying to navigate that environment, and so if they (the Taliban) have identified LGBTQI people as a target, there’s an incentive to turn them in,” Powell told France 24. 

If you feel distressed reading the story, you can reach out to support services.

For 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14

For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.

© Star Observer 2021 | For the latest in lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and intersex (LGBTIQ) news in Australia, be sure to visit starobserver.com.au daily. You can also read our latest magazines or Join us on our Facebook page and Twitter feed.

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