Rhode Island Congressman David Cicilline has asked Secretary of State Antony Blinken what plan is in place to protect Afghanistan’s LGBTQ folks who are stuck in the country under Taliban rule.
The question came during a House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing that focused on the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, and a 10-point plan to protect LGBTQ Afghans for which the Council for Global Equality and five other advocacy groups have called the Biden administration to implement.
Blinken on Monday expressed concern over the fate of LGBTQ Afghans who remain in the country after the Taliban regained control of it amid the chaos of the U.S. troop withdrawal.
The Taliban entered Kabul, the Afghan capital on Aug. 15 and toppled then-President Ashraf Ghani’s government causing that leader to flee and the attempted mass exodus of many citizens.
The U.S. evacuated more than 100,000 people from the country before American troops completed their withdrawal from the country on Aug. 30. It is unknown whether any LGBT Afghans were among those who were able to leave during the evacuations from Kabul International Airport, but Immigration Equality last week said it spoke “directly” with 50 LGBT Afghans before the U.S. withdrawal ended, according to The Washington Blade.
Blinken told Cicilline that he had “not personally seen the report … but I’m going to take a look at that myself.”
Cicilline, (Rhode Island, D) was complimented by Blinken: “Thank you for rightfully putting the spotlight on concerns about the LGBTQI+ community in Afghanistan and the particular threat that they find themselves under,” said Blinken. “This is something that we are focused on.”
“It’s important, in my view, that we take steps to ensure that those who would be subjected to violence or worse because of their sexual orientation or gender identity are safe,” Cicilline told Blinken during the hearing.
It comes as a Taliban judge in July said the militant Islamist group would likely begin executing gay men if it were to return to power in Afghanistan. There have already been credible news reports of reprisal killings since the Taliban returned to power.