Afghanistan: Protect Women, Children, LGBTQ and Other Vulnerable Persons

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We, the undersigned organisations working to advance the human rights of persons of diverse sexual orientation, gender identity and expression, and sex characteristics (SOGIESC) call for the protection of women, children, LGBTIQ people and other vulnerable persons in Afghanistan.

Since 15 August, the Taliban-led takeover of Kabul’s Presidential Palace and the abrupt collapse of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan’s government raises concerns over human rights and the safety of marginalised groups in the country. Besides LGBTIQ people and people of diverse SOGIESC, women, persecuted religious minorities, journalists and human rights defenders have come under threat, and many have gone into hiding out of fear.

We are concerned with alleged reports of the Taliban already implementing their strict version of the Sharia law, and it has been reported that many women and girls fear participating in public life and face the risk of being banned from going to school and university again. We are saddened to see the decades of progress made by women’s groups be potentially reversed suddenly and disastrously.

We also fear that LGBTIQ people will be further criminalised and persecuted, as authorities in the Taliban have made recent statements that death sentences will be reinstated for gay men. The Afghan LGBTIQ people have already been living in fear of violence and killings for a number of years, and we dread that this situation will escalate further.

In ILGA World’s latest State-Sponsored Homophobia (2020) report, Afghanistan is listed among countries for which there is no full legal certainty that the death penalty is the established punishment for consensual same-sex sexual acts (see here). The same report also updates on the explicit criminalising provisions of “same-sex conduct” under Section 646 of Afghanistan’s 2017 Penal Code and enforcement in recent years (see here).

While the Taliban has announced a “general amnesty” in Afghanistan and has called for women to join its government “according to Sharia law”, it is imperative that any form of governance that takes place, needs to empower women and minorities and be based on human rights and evidence-based practices. If the Taliban wants to include women, it needs to first stop preventing women from accessing public life and education and to not perpetuate any harm against women and minorities.

The crisis in Afghanistan is complex and difficult, but we remind the international community that it has a moral obligation—particularly those who have played a role in the development of the issue—to ensure that the political crisis is diffused via a solution that prioritises the self-determination of the Afghan people while protecting vulnerable persons from harm and violence.

We call for the following:

  • We urge the Taliban to respect the rights of all people granted by the Constitution of Afghanistan, the international covenants ratified by Afghanistan, the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and international human rights norms, irrespective of their SOGIESC status.
  • We demand that any effort to quell this political crisis will be made with the consultation of vulnerable people in Afghanistan including LGBTIQ persons and women. Their human rights must not be compromised for a political peace deal.
  • We call on the international community to provide urgent humanitarian assistance and protection to all Afghans.
  • We urge that countries open their borders and accept refugees and asylum seekers from Afghanistan. We commend Canada’s commitment to accepting 20,000 vulnerable Afghans and prioritising LGBTIQ persons, women leaders and other groups, and look to other countries to follow suit.
  • We call on everyone to work together to provide support in their own capacity. We call on individuals and groups to make donations, donors to make emergency funding available, and for organisations to assist in coordinating the collection and distribution of funds, noting the lack of LGBTIQ organisations in Afghanistan.

Endorsed by the following groups:

  1. 6Rang (Iranian Lesbian and Transgender Network)
  2. Access Planet Organization
  3. African Trans Network
  4. Aleph Melbourne
  5. All Out
  6. All Women’s Action Society (AWAM)
  7. Alouen
  8. Amnesty International Taiwan Section
  9. Antalya Feminist Kolektif
  10. ASEAN Feminist LBQ Network
  11. ASEAN SOGIE Caucus
  12. Asia Pacific Transgender Network
  13. Asia-Pacific Rainbow Catholics Network
  14. Bangladesh Queer Partnership Platform- EQUAL
  15. Beyond Borders Malaysia
  16. Bisdak Pride, Inc.
  17. Bisexual Alliance Victoria
  18. Boys of Bangladesh (Formerly)
  19. Campaign for Change 
  20. CAN-Myanmar 
  21. CEDAW Committee of Trinidad & Tobago
  22. Centre for Civil and Political Rights
  23. Centre for Independent Journalism (CIJ) Malaysia
  24. COC Netherlands
  25. Community Welfare and Development Fund
  26. Covenants Watch
  27. CPCD Studio
  28. Dawei Probono Lawyer Network
  29. Deaf Rainbow 
  30. Diversity and Solidarity Trust – Sri Lanka 
  31. Diversity Lounge Toyama
  32. Doshisha University 
  33. Edge Effect
  34. ELLY Fukui
  35. Equal Asia Foundation
  36. EQUAL GROUND, Sri Lanka 
  37. GAYa NUSANTARA Foundation
  38. Gays Without Borders
  39. Helem
  40. Human Dignity Trust
  41. Human Rights Defenders World Summit
  42. ILGA Asia
  43. ILGA World
  44. Iloilo Pride Team
  45. Inclusive Bangladesh
  46. International Service for Human Rights
  47. International Women’s Rights Action Watch Asia Pacific
  48. Intersex Asia
  49. Intersex Philippines
  50. isha lisha – Haifa feminist center
  51. Ishikawa Conference for LGBT
  52. Iwate Rainbow Network
  53. J-ALL (Japan Alliance for LGBT Legislation)
  54. JEJAKA
  55. justice for sisters
  56. Kampania Przeciw Homofobii | Campaign Against Homophobia (Poland)
  57. Kanazawa Rainbow Pride
  58. Kaos GL 
  59. Korean Sexual-minority Culture & Rights Center
  60. LakanBini Advocates Pilipinas 
  61. Legal Dignity
  62. Let’s Breakthrough, Inc.
  63. Lezpa
  64. LGBT Centre
  65. LOUD (Lesbians of Undeniable Drive)
  66. LOVE4ONE
  67. M-coalition
  69. Manushya Foundation
  70. Marsa Sexual Health Center
  71. Matimba
  72. Metro Manila Pride 
  73. Midneunfemi
  74. Monsoon Malaysia (MM)
  75. MOSAIC Mena
  76. Movimiento de Integración y Liberación Homosexual (MOVILH)
  77. Mujer-LGBT Organization, Inc
  78. Namibia Diverse Women Association
  79. Nijiiro Diversity
  80. Noboprobhaat 
  81. Nőkért Egyesület (Association for Women), Hungary  
  82. NPO Tokyo Rainbow Pride
  83. Oogachaga
  84. Organization Intersex International-Chinese (Oii-Chinese)
  85. Outrage Magazine
  86. OutRight Action International
  87. Pacific Human Rights Initiative
  88. Palestinian Working Woman for Development “PWWSD”
  89. Pan Africa ILGA
  90. PELANGI Campaign
  91. Persatuan Sahabat Wanita, Selangor (Friends of Women Organisation, Selangor)
  92. Pioneer Filipino Transgender men Movement
  94. Planet Ally
  95. PLUHO (People Like Us Hang Out!)
  96. Pride House Tokyo
  97. PROHAM
  98. Proud Futures
  99. PT Foundation
  100. Queer Voices of Bhutan
  101. Queers4Climate 
  102. Rainbow Action Against Sexual-Minority Discrimination
  103. Rainbow Egypt
  104. RainbowJesus (무지개예수)
  105. RFSL (The Swedish Federation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer and Intersex Rights)
  106. Sans Tabous
  107. Sayoni
  108. SEED Malaysia
  109. Seoul Human Rights Film Festival in South Korea
  110. SGRainbow
  111. SHARE, center for Sexual rigHts And Reproductive justicE
  112. Sisters in Islam, Malaysia
  113. SOGILAW
  115. Success Capital Organisation
  116. Swasti
  117. Taiwan Association for Human Rights
  118. Taiwan Equality Campaign
  119. Taiwan Gender Equity Education Association
  120. Taiwan LGBTQ Family Rights Advocacy
  121. Taiwan Tongzhi (LGBTQ+) Hotline Association
  122. The Gay and Lesbian Coalition of Kenya (GALCK)
  123. The Global Center for LGBTI+ Freedom and Education
  124. The Institute for Studies on Society, Economy & Environment – iSEE
  125. Thorne Harbour Health
  126. Together4Change: DAWOOM
  127. Transgender Equality Hong Kong
  128. Transgender Victoria
  129. Transpiration Power
  130. Trikone Australasia Inc
  131. Tufts University
  132. UP Babaylan
  133. Visayas LBTQ Network
  134. Women Against Rape
  135. Women for Women’s Rights (WWHR)
  136. Youth Voices Count
  137. にじ♡はぐ 石川
  138. ひだまりの会