Dear President Biden and Secretary of State Blinken,
As I’m sure you’re well aware, there has news of late about the situation in Afghanistan when it comes to members of the LGBTQ community. According to various media reports, the Taliban, though not yet in full control has vowed to take action against gays, lesbians and transgender Afghans if they take power again following America’s upcoming withdrawal, as they already have in certain regions of the country.
Jihadist judge Gul Rahim has said that they plan to enact sharia law as punishment against gay men, which includes stoning to death and crushing them under a 8-10 foot wall. The situation for the LGBTQ citizens of Afghanistan is already a dangerous one; they’ve lived in a climate of oppression and fear, and now to add the threat of this type of horrifying brutality is tragic and abhorrent.
The Taliban’s pace of occupation is accelerating, and the window is quickly closing to evacuate those who might be at risk under their regime. I saw the recent story about Operation Allied Refuge, a massive airlift you are planning of interpreters and other personnel who have assisted the U.S. military throughout the war. I know this is a slightly different issue, but I strongly urge you to consider including LGBTQ Afghans and other endangered groups as well.
Under normal circumstances I understand that these types of people would be able to apply for asylum via diplomatic channels. But this situation is anything but normal; it’s precarious, and time is of the essence. If we are to save these innocent lives then it needs to be done in a special way.
I hope both of you, along with your newly appointed LGBTQ rights envoy Jessica Stern, will consider working with diplomats, the military and with global human rights organizations such as OutRight International and the Peter Tatchell Foundation, that can help you identify the people who may need assistance and also create a communication channel for people they may not be aware of to reach out before the takeover.
I know the logistics of such an operation are immense, but you have an enormous amount of power at your fingertips. I hope and pray you’ll use it.