Gay Afghans facing deportation told to ‘pretend to be straight’

Gay Afghans who are being deported are being told that they should “pretend to be straight” in guidelines issued by the British government.

The guidance was issued to those who are being deported back to Afghanistan, where homosexuality is illegal.

The document sets out potential risks LGBT people in the country may face, and what laws they could be prosecuted under.

However, it also insists that the Afghan government has not prosecuted for homosexuality recently, and an LGBT person facing deportation would likely find refuge in the capital of Kabul which does not face the threat of the Taliban.

The document states: “While space for being openly gay is limited, subject to individual factors, a practising gay man who, on return to Kabul, would not attract or seek to cause public outrage, would not face a real risk of persecution.

“In the absence of other risk factors, it may be a safe and viable option for a gay man to relocate to Kabul, though individual factors will have to be taken into account.”

Human rights groups have condemned the Home Office, and deemed that action a violation of international law.

The document goes against guidelines issued by the United Nations on refugees which states LGBT people should not have to hide their identity to prevent persecution.

Heather Barr, a senior researcher at Human Rights Watch, said: “The Home Office’s approach seems to be to tell asylum seekers, ‘Pretend you’re straight, move to Kabul and best of luck,’”

“Living a life where you are forced to lie every day about a key part of your identity, and live in constant fear of being found out and harassed, prosecuted or attacked, is exactly the kind of persecution asylum laws are supposed to prevent.”

The Afghanistan unit of the Home Office have expressed concern over the document. The Home Office did not comment on the revelation of the document, and insisted that each claim from a person seeking residency in the UK would be considered individually.

Paul Twocock, director of campaigns, policy and research at Stonewall, called the document “unacceptable” and called for a governmental “change” in dealing with LGBT asylum seekers.

He said: “They openly acknowledge that LGBT people are at risk, but also state that they can escape persecution if they are careful not to attract attention by hiding who they are. This is unacceptable and leaves LGBT people in danger. We strongly urge the government to change its approach.”