Human Rights First Welcomes Passage of House Resolution Condemning Attacks on Gay and Bisexual Men in Chechnya
Washington, D.C.—Human Rights First today applauded the bipartisan passage of House Resolution 351, which is a strong condemnation of the detention, torture, and murders of gay and bisexual men in Chechnya, Russia. The resolution passed today in the House of Representatives by a vote of 242-183. This comes as President Trump is preparing to meet with Russian President Vladimir Putin during the G-20 Summit in Germany next week.
“This resolution is a major step forward in responding to the crisis in Chechnya and serves as an important reminder that Congress is not ready to abdicate American leadership on LGBT issues, even in such challenging times,” said Human Rights First’s Shawn Gaylord. “We urge Secretary Tillerson and President Trump to follow suit and raise this human rights crisis with their Russian counterparts, particularly as Trump prepares to meet with Putin next week.”
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.
Today’s 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.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson recently indicated to Congress that he has not raised the ongoing persecution of gay and bisexual men in Chechnya with his Russian counterparts. Secretary Tillerson testified that speaking to Russian officials about the crisis is on the State Department’s “pending list.” Human Rights First continues to call on the administration to immediately raise these concerns with the Russian government, due to the severity and urgency of the crisis.