Charities call on Australia to take LGBTIQ Afghan refugees

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Non-profits including Canada’s Rainbow Railroad and the Australian GLBTIQ Multicultural Council say governments must give refuge to queer Afghans, who face death under the Taliban.

After the Taliban seized control in Afghanistan last week, gay Afghans are living in fear of their lives.

Canadian-based non-profit Rainbow Railroad helps hundreds around the world flee persecution to safety each year. The group gets over 4,000 requests for help annually.

Executive Director Kimahli Powell warned the thousands of Afghans immediately fleeing was a “migration and humanitarian crisis.”

“The deteriorating security situation threatens the safety of LGBTQI+ people,” Powell said.

“There are a limited number of human rights defenders in the country and civil society engagement is minimal.

“This means that support for LGBTQI+ people from within Afghanistan is limited.”

Powell said despite the communication difficulties, the group is trying to reach people at risk within the country.

Earlier this month, the Canadian government announced the resettlement of 20,000 vulnerable Afghans, specifically including LGBTIQ people.

“We strongly encourage other governments to do the same,” Kimahli Powell said.

“Now is the time for governments to step up and support LGBTQI+ Afghan refugees.”

Australia urged to accept LGBTIQ Afghan refugees

The US and UK governments have also announced their intakes of refugees from Afghanistan would increase.

In Australia, Prime Minister Scott Morrison last week allocated 3000 places within Australia’s existing 13,750-person refugee program to Afghans fleeing over the next 10 months.

However Morrison described that number “a floor, not a ceiling” and said “we do believe we’ll be able to do more”.

The Australian GLBTIQ Multicultural Council (AGMC) urged the Morrison government to include LGBTIQ Afghans.

Australia must “ensure all resettlement programs are responsive to, and inclusive of, LGBTIQ+ forcibly displaced people,” President Giancarlo de Vera said.

“[Their] experiences must be recognised in Australia’s humanitarian program and resettlement services,” de Vera said.

“We recognise and feel the pain that conflict brings.

“Many of our members come from multicultural communities that have also experienced displacement and fled persecution and violence from around the world.”

The AGMC also urged the government to grant amnesty to Afghans already in Australia on temporary and bridging visas.

Many Australian LGBTIQ groups have also signed a statement by ILGA Asia calling for urgent humanitarian assistance for persecuted Afghans.

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