Included in the cohort of 29 were students and activists who repeatedly advocated for the LGBT+ community in Afghanistan. The Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) said that they had been evacuated due to a potential risk of discrimination and assault following the Taliban’s seizure of power in the war-torn country.
Foreign secretary Liz Truss welcomed the group and 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.”
Stonewall, Micro Rainbow and Rainbow Railroad are among the charities that intervened to assist the group in ensuring safe passage to the UK and helping them establish their new lives in the UK.
Chief executive of Stonewall Nancy Kelley said that her organisation had been working to bring vulnerable Afghans to the UK for the “last few months” and committed to continuing to call for international support to assist those who remain in Afghanistan.
“We are proud that our campaigning and collaboration has resulted in the first group of LGBTQ+ Afghans arriving here in the UK to resettle and rebuild their lives, and for LGBTQ+ people to be recognised as a priority group for resettlement.
“However, our work is not yet done. We will continue advocating for international support for LGBTQ+ Afghans, including those that remain in Afghanistan, and we will continue to work with the UK government to ensure that the LGBTQ+ Afghans who arrive in the UK are given the support they need,” Ms Kelley said.
More groups of vulnerable LGBT+ Afghans are expected to arrive in the UK over the coming months, as the government’s Afghan Citizens Resettlement Scheme will remain open.
The FCDO said that the scheme would prioritise Afghans who have assisted the UK’s efforts in the central Asian country, alongside vulnerable people, members of minority groups considered to be at risk, and those who have advocated for democracy, women’s rights, freedom of speech and the rule of law.