Hundreds Of Londoners Protest ‘Torture And Murder Of 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 men in Chechnya.

The protest comes in response to reports in Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta and by human rights groups claiming 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, with three men reportedly dead.


The protest was organised by group Pride In London, and attendees chanted phrases like “Close the camps” and “Queer rights are human rights” before laying pink flowers outside the embassy’s front gates.

A spokesperson for Chechan leader Ramzan Kadyrov has previously called the media reports “lies” and 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,” the spokesperson was quoted as saying.

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 and to offer protection and support to what amounts to 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,” the group wrote.

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

She said the Network, based in St Petersburg, had set up a helpline and “are 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,” she told the BBC.

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.

The American, European and British governments have also condemned the reports of violence against Chechen men, and a cross-party group of MPs in New Zealand has written 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.”