LGBTQI+ Afghans are facing state-directed homophobic, biphobic and transphobic violence on a widespread scale to the extent that Rainbow Railroad is urging the Government of Canada take additional measures in order to avoid loss of human life and further egregious human rights abuses. In this memorandum, we draw on our extensive work in the country since the end of August to provide a briefing on the security emergency facing LGBTQI+ Afghans, outline why this emergency requires immediate intervention, and provide a pathway forward.
Rainbow Railroad is urging the Minister of Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship to immediately use Section 25 under the Immigration and Refugee Protection Act (IRPA) to allow Rainbow Railroad to directly refer up to 300 LGBTQI+ Afghans for resettlement in Canada as Government Assisted Refugees.
The urgent activation of a public policy under Section 25 for LGBTQI+ Afghans would be complementary and concurrent to the resettlement of LGBTQI+ Afghan refugees through the Rainbow Refugee Assistance Program (RRAP). This document outlines why both a commitment to a new public policy under Section 25, and increased and expedited RRAP resettlement is the best path forward.
Since the fall of Kabul, the Government of Canada has signalled that it intends to directly support LGBTQI+ Afghans as well as other minority communities. On August 13, 2021, Immigration Minister Marco Mendicino, Foreign Affairs Minister Marc Garneau and Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan released a statement announcing that Canada “will introduce a special program to focus on particularly vulnerable groups that are already welcomed to Canada through existing resettlement streams, including women leaders, human rights defenders, journalists, persecuted religious minorities, LGBTI individuals, and family members of previously resettled interpreters. The program will welcome government supported and privately sponsored refugees, along with those sponsored by family already in Canada”.
Since the announcement of the special program, Rainbow Railroad has fielded over 800 requests for help from LGBTQI+ people. Among these 800, we have fully verified the identities of 300 individuals who are facing immediate risk, and who need to be resettled. Within these 300 are 45 individuals who have sought refuge in Pakistan and the UAE that Rainbow Railroad is currently supporting. The situation of these 45 individuals is highly precarious and they are ready to travel immediately. This is why the time to act is now.
To ensure the 300 people we have identified and verified as extremely high risk can be moved to safety in Canada as soon as possible, this memorandum proposes a clear path forward on creating the new “special program,” for immediate implementation. Rainbow Railroad stands ready to work with the Government of Canada to deliver this program as the referring partner.
You can read the full memorandum here, or access it below.