Kremlin-backed leader President Ramzan Kadyrov has promised to wipe out gay men from the region by the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins on May 26.
The UK’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Sir Alan Duncan, himself openly gay, revealed the British government had been made aware of the horrific threat this week. Duncan said,
“Human rights groups report that these anti-gay campaigns and killings are orchestrated by the head of the Chechen republic, Ramzan Kadyrov.
He has carried out other violent campaigns in the past, and this time he is directing his efforts at the LGBT community. Sources have said that he wants the [LGBT] community eliminated by the start of Ramadan.
Such comments, attitudes and actions are absolutely beyond contemptible.
Statements by the regional government in Chechnya that appear to condone and incite violence against LGBT people are utterly despicable. We condemn any and all persecution and call on the authorities to promptly investigate and ensure that the perpetrators of human rights abuses are brought to justice.
This would be in accordance with international human rights commitments adopted by the Russian government to respect the human rights of all individuals.“
Terrifying accounts of torture and killings have been comping out of Chechnya over the past two weeks. The Russian opposition newspaper, Novaya Gazeta, reported that over 100 gay and bisexual men aged 16-50 had been detained by authorities over the last few months.
Three men are known to have been killed, though the paper estimates the real figure to be much higher, with witnesses and survivors reporting that detainees have been imprisoned together in large groups or ‘camps’, where they have been beaten and tortured by officials.
Denouncing the events in Chechnya, Duncan told parliament:
“The arbitrary detention and ill-treatment of over 100 men in Chechnya because of their sexual orientation is of the utmost concern to the UK.“
Russian president Vladimir Putin, has denied evidence of systematic detention and torture of gay men in Chechnya, saying:
“We do not have any reliable information about any problems in this area.”
United Nations human rights experts have called on Russian government to intervene, while demonstrations of solidarity with Chechnya’s LGBT+ community have been held around the world, including outside the Russian embassy in London.
An Amnesty International petition demands that Russian’s prosecutor general, Aleksandr Ivanovich Bastrykin, launch an investigation into these events in Chechnya. It had reached over 160,000 signatures by yesterday morning (April 22).