Afghan LGBT Asylum Seekers in UK Among Most Vulnerable: At Risk of Imprisonment, Violence if Deported to Afghanistan

On Feb 26, 2017 Human Rights Watch reported: To be openly gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender in Afghanistan is to risk abuse, even death.

Despite this, lawyers working with Afghan refugees in the United Kingdom have told Human Rights Watch that they find themselves pushing back against British immigration officials unwilling to accept even these refugees, among the most vulnerable of asylum seekers.

Bizarrely, the UK immigration office states in its January 2017 guidelines on asylum claims based on sexual orientation that a gay man who “on return to Kabul, would not attract or seek to cause public outrage, would not face a real risk of persecution,” and that “it may be a safe and viable option for a gay man to relocate to Kabul.” In an annex to the official guidance, the Foreign and Commonwealth Office notes that “the only option for a homosexual individual … would be to conceal their sexual orientation to avoid punishment.”

In Afghanistan, same-sex relations are punishable by 5 to 15 years in prison under a law that bans all sex between individuals not married to each other. Afghan law specifies that marriage is between a man and a woman. Under Sharia, or Islamic law, the punishment for sex outside marriage could be a death sentence. Because the evidentiary requirements of this law are difficult to meet, this punishment hasn’t been applied by Afghan courts since 2001.

Afghan law provides no protection against discrimination or harassment on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Groups working to protect LGBT people operate underground to avoid being shut down or attacked.

Read more at Afghan LGBT Asylum Seekers in UK Among Most Vulnerable | Human Rights Watch

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