Londoners protest torture & murder of gay Chechens

London Chechnya Chechen Gay Men

Hundreds of LGBTI people and allies rallied outside the Russian embassy in London on Wednesday evening to protest horrific reports of violence against gay Chechens.

The protest comes following reports in Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta and by human rights groups that claim at least 100 men have been detained and violently tortured “in connection with their non-traditional sexual orientation, or suspicion of such” in the Russian region of Chechnya. Furthermore, reports speak of three men murdered.

Queer rights are human rights

The protest was organised by group Pride In London, and attendees chanted phrases like ‘Close the camps’ and ‘Queer rights are human rights’. They then lay pink flowers outside the embassy’s front gates.

A spokesperson for Chechan leader Ramzan Kadyrov has previously called the media reports ‘lies’. He said homosexual people “simply don’t exist in the republic”.

“If such people existed in Chechnya, law enforcement would not have to worry about them since their own relatives would have sent them to where they could never return.”

In an open letter to UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson, Pride in London urged the government “to take meaningful steps to assist the LGBT+ community in Chechnya. Britain should also offer protection and support because of the  state-sponsored genocide.”

“The statements issued by the authorities in Chechnya, that LGBT+ citizens do not exist in the state, are a chilling indictment to the goals of an extermination agenda rather than that of fact.”

In fact, Natalia Poplevskaya from the Russian LGBT Network told the BBC they are aware of “an organised campaign to detain gay men” in Chechnya.

She said the Network, based in St Petersburg, earlier set up a helpline. They are also working to evacuate people.

“Torture is going on with electric shocks, beatings with cables. All the people arrested are homosexual men or perceived as being gay.”

Online petitions started by Amnesty International and on calling for an end to the violence against the gay population in Chechnya have each been signed by more than 80,000 people.

International condemnation

The American, European and British governments also condemned the reports. A cross-party group of MPs in New Zealand also wrote to Foreign Minister Murray McCully urging him to “ask Russia to investigate the detention and alleged murders of men perceived to be gay in Chechnya.”

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