Bipartisan House Resolution on Chechnya Passes Unanimously

Washington, D.C.Human Rights First today applauds the swift, bipartisan passage of House Resolution 531, a strong condemnation of the detention, torture, and murders of gay and bisexual men in Chechnya. The resolution passed in the House Foreign Affairs Committee by a unanimous voice vote. The resolution was bipartisan with a total of 52 cosponsors.

In response to the passage, Human Rights First’s Shawn Gaylord issued the following statement:

“This resolution sends a strong message of condemnation to those in Chechnya who are committing these horrific human rights abuses as well as to the Russian government that is standing by while this tragedy unfolds. This is a key moment for American leadership to reaffirm its commitment to an end to human rights abuses based on sexual orientation, wherever they might occur. We are grateful to Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen and Chairman Ed Royce for their leadership in making this resolution a reality and we are pleased to see such robust support from leaders on both sides of the aisle.”

Yesterday, May 24, Human Rights First issued the following statement in support of House Resolution 351:

Washington, D.C.—Human Rights First today applauds the introduction of a new resolution in the U.S. House of Representatives condemning the continuing persecution of gay and bisexual men in Chechnya and calling for swift action to end the current crisis. Introduced by Representatives Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL), Eliot L. Engel (D-NY), Darrel Issa (R-CA), David Cicilline (D-RI), Ed Royce (R-CA), and Chris Smith (R-NJ), the bipartisan resolution calls on the Russian government to condemn the violence, conduct a thorough investigation, and bring perpetrators to justice.

“These members of Congress recognize that ending Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov’s human rights violations requires bold action. This resolution is a clear message to the Chechen and Russian authorities that unlawful detention and torture based on sexual orientation will not be tolerated,” said Human Rights First’s Shawn Gaylord. “It’s especially encouraging to see members on both sides of the aisle back this measure. It shows that America is unified against such hate.”

In March, independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported on the mass detention of over one hundred men “in connection with their nontraditional sexual orientation, or suspicion of such.” During the crackdown, at least three men have been killed. Journalists reporting on the situation have been threatened by Chechen government officials. In addition to the deaths, survivors reported beatings and torture, as well as being forced to disclose the names of other gay men in the region. As the crisis continues, LGBT organizations on the ground are evacuating victims from the country.

The response from Chechen and Russian leadership has been severely lacking ranging from the denial of the existence of gay people to the conducting of an “investigation” which determined no such abuses had occurred.

The new resolution calls on the House of Representatives to condemn violence and persecution against gay and bisexual men in Chechnya, calls on Chechen officials to cease abduction and torture of individuals based on their real or perceived sexual orientation, and to hold accountable those involved in perpetuating the abuses. It further calls on Russian officials to protect the human rights of all of its citizens, including those of the LGBT community in Chechnya, and to likewise condemn the brutality, and to undertake an investigation to bring the perpetrators to justice.

“These men are in desperate circumstances and they need the international community to assist in their struggle for safety. It is heartening to see members of Congress standing up to ensure that the United States lives up to its human rights commitments,” added Gaylord.


Published on May 25, 2017


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