Petition calls for Australian government action on Chechnya’s ‘gay purge’


chechnya gay purge victorian pride lobby australian government
Photo: Victorian Pride Lobby

The Victorian Pride Lobby is petitioning Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne to crack down on two leaders behind Chechnya’s “gay purge”.

Since 2017, authorities in the Russian republic have targeted, detained and tortured numerous LGBTQ people.

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Human rights groups and media have dubbed the horrific violence Chechnya’s “gay purge”.

The Victorian Pride Lobby has launched a Change.org petition calling on the Australian government to follow the US and European Union and blacklist two of the leaders of the crackdown.

“We’ve heard reports of LGBTQ+ people being arrested and tortured en masse in Chechnya for years now,” co-convener Nevena Spirovska told QNews.com.au.

“But to date the Australian Government has done very little about it.

“It’s time we sent a clear message to Chechnya that the world is watching, and that we won’t accept human rights abuses being perpetrated against LGBTQ+ people.

“All LGBTQ+ people deserve to live in safety and free from the fear of persecution or violence.”

The Lobby also writes on Change.org, “Survivors have claimed that Chechen authorities are urging parents to kill their gay children.

“Gay and bisexual men are being tricked into meetings using social media, only to be violently attacked or detained.

“There are shocking reports of queer women being detained and subjected to acts of sexual violence.”

Earlier this year, activists warned two gay Chechen men were in grave danger. Russian police had arrested the men and returned them to Chechnya after they fled to escape torture.

A landmark 2020 HBO documentary by David France also showed brave activists’ work in helping targeted LGBTQ Chechens to safety.

‘Australian government has done little to intervene’

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has repeatedly denied the violence. He even once claimed, “You cannot detain and persecute people who simply do not exist.”

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Now the Victorian Pride Lobby has called on the Morrison government to sanction two men, Ayub Kataev and Abuzayed Vismuradov, that the US and EU agree are both responsible.

“What is clear from these horrific reports is that LGBTQ+ people in Chechnya are in grave danger and at risk of arrest or torture, if not worse,” they wrote.

“So far the Australian Government has done very little to intervene.

“The Victorian Pride Lobby is calling on the Minister for Foreign Affairs Marisa Payne to impose sanctions on human rights abusers Ayub Kataev and Abuzayed Vismuradov.

“This will help to keep pressure on them and will let Chechnya know the world is watching.”

Two men are behind torture and cruelty in Chechnya’s ‘gay purge’

Ayub Kataev heads Chechnya’s Ministry of Internal Affairs. In 2017, the United States imposed sanctions on Kataev for his role in the abuses against LGBTQ+ Chechens.

In 2019, the United States also imposed sanctions on Abuzayed Vismuradov. He is commander of the Terek Special Rapid Responses Team, the unit responsible for the persecution.

He headed the group that illegally detained and tortured individuals for their actual or perceived sexual orientation, the US said.

This week, the European Union also blacklisted both men by imposing sanctions against them.

The EU declared the men responsible for the “torture and repressions” of “lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons, those presumed to belong to LGBTI groups.”

Kataev oversaw “the activities of local state security and police agencies” directed against LGBTI Chechens, the EU said. The EU said Kataev committed “serious human rights violations”.

“In particular, torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment, as well as arbitrary arrests and detentions and extrajudicial or arbitrary executions and killings.”

The EU also accused Vismuradov of the same human rights violations as Kataev. Vismuradov also “personally supervised and took part in torturing detainees,” the EU said.

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