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First group of LGBT+ Afghans helped by UK government to leave Afghanistan arrive in Britain

Written by on 30 October 2021

The first group of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT+) Afghans that the UK government helped leave Afghanistan have arrived in Britain.

Under Taliban rule, LGBT+ people in Afghanistan are among the most vulnerable, with many facing increased levels of persecution, discrimination and assault.

Earlier this year, the UK was one of many countries that helped evacuate vulnerable Afghans out of the country as part of Operation Pitting.

Now the first group of 29 LGBT+ Afghans have arrived in Britain to start their new lives and it is hoped they will be the first of many.

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Since the end of Operation Pitting, in late August, the UK has helped more than 13,000 people, including British and Afghan nationals to leave Afghanistan.

Foreign Secretary Liz Truss 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.”

The group arrived in the UK following interventions by the foreign secretary, along with the support of organisations, Rainbow Railroad and Stonewall.

Kimahli Powell, executive director of Rainbow Railroad, said: “Since the fall of Kabul, Rainbow Railroad has been leading efforts to find safety for LGBTQI+ Afghans facing grave danger. In partnership with others, we have directly relocated dozens of persons to safer countries where they can live lives free of state-directed persecution.

“This is just the beginning of our efforts to help hundreds of LGBTQI+ individuals we are supporting in Afghanistan relocate to safety.”

Among the group are students and activists who have repeatedly stood up for equality for the LGBT+ community in Afghanistan and they will continue to be supported by the organisations.

Further vulnerable LGBT+ Afghans are expected to arrive in the UK in the coming months and the Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme will provide protection for people at risk or in need.

The scheme prioritises those who helped the UK efforts in Afghanistan and stood up for values such as democracy, women’s rights and freedom of speech.

Vulnerable people, including women, girls and members of minority groups at risk, will also be prioritised.