Jarrow MP leads debate on possible UK Government interventions for threatened LGBTQI+ people in Afghanistan

A South Tyneside MP has secured a parliamentary debate addressing questions of safety and protection for LGBTQI+ people in Afghanistan.

Kate Osborne, the Commons representative for Jarrow, is to lead the debate over what can be done to address the plight of the threatened community, which kicks off at 4:30pm on Tuesday, September 21.

Prior to the Taliban’s return to power amid Western forces’ chaotic withdrawal from the Middle-Eastern territory, acceptance of the LGBTQ+ community in Afghanistan was already understood to be extremely low.

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There have been reports of police harassment of individuals perceived to be part of the LGBTQ+ community over recent years, while ‘honour killings’ were not uncommon.

Kate Osborne, the MP for Jarrow.

Ms Osborne said many of Afghanistan’s LGBTQ+ residents now faced a heightened risk of persecution and violence – including even extra-judicial executions and the death penalty.

“LGBTQI+ people in Afghanistan are targeted and subject to homophobic, biphobic and transphobic sexual violence, forced marriages, honour killings, conversion practices and execution,” she said.

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“LGBTQI+ people in Afghanistan are living in fear of a Taliban-controlled Government, which is open about its position on actively supporting the death penalty for LGBTQI+ people.

“The Taliban takeover of Afghanistan has sent many LGBTQI+ people into hiding out of fear. Simply being LGBTQI+ will, under the rule of the Taliban, mean extra-judicial executions and the death penalty sanctioned by the government.”

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In this image provided by the U.S. Marine Corps, evacuees wait to board a Boeing C-17 Globemaster III during an evacuation at Hamid Karzai International Airport in Kabul, Afghanistan, Monday, Aug. 30. 2021. (Staff Sgt. Victor Mancilla/U.S. Marine Corps via AP)

The Government has underlined its commitment to ‘protecting the human rights of all Afghan people.

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The Minister of State for the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, Nigel Adams, responded to a recent parliamentary question by saying: "Minister for Human Rights Lord (Tariq) Ahmad of Wimbledon addressed the UN Human Rights Council on 24 August to underscore the UK’s commitment to protecting the human rights of all Afghan people.

"The UK also led work on the recent UN Security Council resolution, demonstrating our commitment to holding the Taliban to account on human rights.

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"We are working urgently with neighbouring countries to ensure that at-risk Afghans who are eligible to come to the UK can secure for safe passage.”

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Ms Osborne urged the Government to grant permanent resident status to LGBTQI+ Afghan refugees, as Number 10 weighs up its commitments to those displaced by recent events in the country.

She added: “Clearly it is not safe for LGBTQI+ people to remain in Afghanistan.

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"It is also clear that they do not have safe internal flight options, and in countries in the region where they may be temporarily accepted pending resettlement there are serious concerns about their safety.

“LGBTQI+ Afghan refugees must be given permanent resident in the UK otherwise they will have to hide their identity while living here for fear of persecution should they one day be removed.

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“The Government should hold an urgent cross-agency meeting to bring together resettlement countries, resettlement agencies, and LGBTQI+ civil society and experts to ensure a robust process is developed for the assessment, protection, and resettlement of LGBTQI+ Afghan refugees.”

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