In a letter that was sent to Secretary of State Anthony Blinken on Tuesday, 64 members of Congress called upon the Biden administration to extend its Priority 2 designation status for Afghan refugees to explicitly include LGBTQ+ individuals.
“With the Taliban’s takeover of the country, LGBTQ+ Afghans face the prospect of violent death,” the letter states, citing that Sharia law, which is practiced by the Taliban, “prohibits all forms of same-sex activity and makes same-sex activity punishable by death.” The signatories refer to similar practices enforced by ISIS in both Syria and Iraq, when LGBTQ+ individuals were stoned, hanged, and thrown from buildings.
“Under Taliban rule, LGBTQ+ Afghans will suffer a similar fate,” the letter states.
The signatories also refer to a statement made by a Taliban judge back in July of this year, which was then reported by LGBT Nation: “For homosexuals, there can only be two punishments,” said judge Gul Rahim. LGBTQ+ individuals would face “either stoning, or he must stand behind a wall that will fall down on him.”
The signatories further call on the Biden administration to protect Afghan’s LGBTQ+ individuals as part of its ongoing commitment to defend LGBTQ+ rights worldwide. “We have a moral obligation to uphold our values and utilize every tool at our disposal to protect the LGBTQ+ Afghan community,” the letter states.
Last year, the U.S., under the previous administration, brokered a peace agreement with Taliban forces in Afghanistan. The Biden administration has kept to that agreement, with the President announcing this year that U.S. troops would withdraw from Afghanistan by September.
Then, on August 15, Taliban forces regained control of the capital, Kabul. Since that time, thousands of Afghans have attempted to flee the country, fearing for their lives under renewed Taliban rule.
Earlier this month, the Biden administration announced the Priority 2 designation for Afghan refugees and their family members looking to flee Taliban rule but who aren’t otherwise eligible for a Special Immigrant Visa. Currently, LGBTQ+ Afghans are not explicitly identified as a group that would qualify for Priority 2 designation.