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Gay and trans Afghans running out of time to escape Taliban, campaigners warn

ACTIVISTS warned today that hundreds of LGBT Afghans are in a race against time to escape the Taliban, but that efforts to resettle them in Britain risk being hampered by the Tory government’s new anti-refugee legislation.

Many transgender and gay people went into hiding after the Taliban took control of Afghanistan in August, with fears of being rounded up, imprisoned and tortured. 

Now campaigners warn that some members of the community have already died of starvation while in hiding, have been killed by Taliban forces, or have committed suicide.

Others are now running out of time to get out, activist Nemat Sadat said.

He said he had been contacted by more than 500 LGBT Afghans after starting a crowdfunder to help them reach countries such as Britain, the US, France and Germany. 

“Many are in terrible economic situations, many cannot work and are sitting at home hiding on rooftops and in closets,” the activist from San Diego, California, said.

Mr Sadat said he spoke to one man in hiding whose boyfriend had been beheaded. “When [the Taliban] came rolling into Kabul, this young man was with his boyfriend at a restaurant and just talking,” he said. 

“[Because he was gay] his boyfriend was beheaded that day on the spot.” 

Campaign group Rainbow Migration is among organisations in Britain that are trying to help LGBT Afghans flee, but warned that such efforts could be hampered by the Tory government’s Nationality and Borders Bill. 

Executive director Leila Zadeh said the Bill “will criminalise people for trying to seek safety and make it much harder for them to secure refugee status and rebuild their lives in the UK.”

The government said its resettlement scheme will prioritise “vulnerable people, including women and girls and members of minority groups who are at risk.”

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