Canada has announced plans to resettle women judges and LGBTQ+ refugees from Afghanistan, Reuters reports.
The country will resettle “an unspecified number” of LGBTQ+ Afghan refugees sometime in the new year, according to the news outlet. The government is working with a third party aid organization, a spokesperson for Canada’s immigration minister said, although no date for resettlement has been set.
In addition to the LGBTQ+ refugees, the Canadian government will also resettle a number of women judges who fled Afghanistan following the Taliban’s takeover last summer, who are now mostly residing in Greece, Reuters reports.
Following the withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan in August, ending a 20-year occupation of the Asian country, Taliban forces that had been ousted in the 2001 invasion swiftly reclaimed power. The Taliban’s resurgence threatened two decades of progress made by women in the country, who were allowed to assume roles in public life during the occupation.
While homosexuality remained illegal in Afghanistan during the U.S. occupation, many in the community fear worse reprisal at the hands of the Taliban. Last year, reports began circulating that the Taliban was enforcing Sharia law, under which homosexuality is punishable by death, and that the new government even had lists of known LGBTQ+ individuals to target.
“We know for sure the Taliban has ‘kill lists’ circulating, identifying LBTQI+ persons,” Kimahli Powell, Executive Director of LGBTQ+ organization Rainbow Railroad, told France 24 in an interview last fall. He said that the Taliban likely obtained the names by monitoring foreign aid groups, and the persons they were attempting to evacuate before and during the U.S. withdrawal.
Since the fall of Afghanistan to the Taliban, thousands have attempted to flee the country, many fearing reprisal for their work with Western governments and organizations during the occupation.
Canada has promised to resettle 40,000 Afghan refugees, although there is no timeline for the resettlement.