Administration Urged to Take Action to Provide Protection for Gay Men In and Fleeing Chechnya
Washington, D.C.—Human Rights First today urged the State Department to provide protection and assistance to gay men fleeing violence in Chechnya, Russia, and called on President Trump to demand an end to the brutal persecution of LGBT individuals in Chechnya. Reports indicate that more than one hundred gay men have been abducted, detained, and tortured by Chechen authorities, and at least three men have been murdered. United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley and the State Department have spoken out against the violence, calling for an investigation.
“While we welcome the statements from the State Department and Ambassador Haley, the Trump Administration must continue to engage on the ongoing crisis in Chechnya. This includes continuing to pressure President Putin to put an end to the violence and to launch a serious investigation into what led to this crisis,” said Human Rights First’s Shawn Gaylord.
“We also have an obligation to assist those who are currently in desperate fear for their lives and need to escape Russia altogether. The United States should lead in providing, and encouraging other countries to provide, protection and assistance to the men targeted for violence in Chechnya due to their sexual orientation,” added Gaylord.
Credible evidence to the contrary, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov’s spokesperson has categorically denied that any abuses are taking place, calling reports “absolute lies and disinformation.” He alluded to honor killings of LGBT people within the republic, saying, “if such people existed in Chechnya, law enforcement would not have to worry about them, as their own relatives would have sent them to where they could never return.”
Ambassador Haley’s public call for action followed a letter from Human Rights First President and CEO Elisa Massimino that expressed alarm over reports of the detention and abuse of over one hundred gay men by Chechen authorities. A Human Rights First video features Russian LGBT asylum seekers reading first-hand accounts of the violence.