The Australian Government’s call for Russia to conduct a credible investigation into reports of anti-gay persecution in Chechnya has been praised by LGBTI advocates, but they say the government should do more.
A spokesperson for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has written to LGBTI group just.equal responding to the group’s concerns that Australia was not doing enough to end the imprisonment and torture of gay and bisexual men by Chechen authorities.
In the letter the spokesperson says Australia “has made direct representations to the Russian Government” on the issue and would monitor their response.
“As a member of the Equal Rights Coalition, we have also called upon Russian authorities to conduct an independent and credible investigation of recent allegations as a matter of priority,” the spokesperson wrote.
Just.equal spokesperson Rodney Croome said the group welcomes the fact the Australian Government has expressed concern to Moscow and has joined other nations in calling for an inquiry, but he said more needs to be done.
“We would like to see the Australian Government sponsor a UN resolution condemning the persecution in Chechnya and offer asylum to those gay and bisexual men currently being persecuted by the Chechen authorities,” the veteran LGBTI campaigner said.
“We don’t believe the Russian Government can guarantee the safety of LGBTI Chechens and would like to see Australia become a welcoming, safe haven.
“We would also like to see the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) update its Smart Travaller advisories for LGBTI Australians in Russia and other countries, and establish a foreign affairs reference group on LGBTI issues that includes community representatives, academics and diplomats.”
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov (pictured, right) has repeatedly denied the persecution is taking place even as multiple survivors and human rights groups described the horrific violence in detail. Lithuania and France are the first two countries to accept gay Chechen refugees, according to reports.
Last month, Western Australian Liberal Senator Dean Smith asked a DFAT spokesperson to explain Australia’s response to the reported violence.
The spokesperson said the information from respected human rights groups was “credible” and indicated “very serious” abuses had occurred in the Russian region and the Australian government had raised the issue directly with the Russian government on five separate occasions, in both Moscow and Canberra.
Read the federal government’s statement to just.equal below:
“The Australian Government is firmly committed to the principles that all people are entitled to respect, dignity and legal protection regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, and to promoting and protecting these basic human rights internationally.
“As you would be aware, the Government is concerned by reports of LGBTI persecution in Chechnya and has made direct representations to the Russian Government. It will continue to monitor the Russian Government’s actions to address this important issue and make further representations at the appropriate level in the future as developments warrant.
“The Government is working through the United Nations to stop the persecution against individuals that identify as LGBTI around the world, including within the Russian Federation. As a member of the Equal Rights Coalition, we have also called upon Russian authorities to conduct an independent and credible investigation of recent allegations as a matter of priority.”