Scottish rights groups come out in force for LGBTI rights in Chechnya
SCOTTISH LGBTI activists staged a “We Exist” protest outside the Russian Consulate in central Edinburgh today (Friday 2 June) in solidarity with LGBTI people in Chechnya who have faced alleged abduction and imprisonment by Chechen authorities.
They also called on Russian authorities, who hold sway over Chechen politicians, to fully investigate disturbing reports of human rights abuses from the region of the Russian Federation.
In April, according to reports by the Russian independent newspaper, Novaya Gazeta, hundreds of gay men were being murdered and over 100 allegedly tortured by the authorities in the country in the south of the Russian Federation. Approximately 100 men were seized and rounded up by government forces loyal to the militia leader Ramzan Kadyrov who is a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
“Russia continues to be a very dangerous place to be gay, bi, lesbian or trans – we are appalled by this crackdown in Chechnya along with our fellow human rights and LGBTI campaigners around the world.” Naomi McAuliffe
Chechen and Russian authorities initially denied the violations with a spokesman for the Chechen Republican president, Ramzan Kadyrov, stating that LGBTI people “do not exist” in Chechnya. According to Kadyrov: “Nobody can detain or harass anyone who is simply not present in the republic”.
Wearing black “We Exist” t-shirts LGBTI activists met outside the Consulate General Of The Russian Federation carrying placards with the messages “We Exist” and“Love Is A Human Right”.
Naomi McAuliffe, Amnesty International’s Scotland programme director, said: “Russia continues to be a very dangerous place to be gay, bi, lesbian or trans – we are appalled by this crackdown in Chechnya along with our fellow human rights and LGBTI campaigners around the world. Chechen authorities must be held to account for these heinous violations of rights and called upon to ensure the perpetrators are brought to justice. The horrific persecution of gay and bi men in Chechnya must cease immediately.”
“We must have justice for the victims, and a full, transparent investigation into the detention, torture and killing of gay and bi men in Chechnya.” Colin Macfarlane
Colin Macfarlane, director of Stonewall Scotland, said: “We have all been appalled by the reports coming from the region. This is a grave situation and we, along with other LGBT groups and human rights organisations worldwide, are calling for an immediate halt to the violence, and for those who are detained to be released immediately.
“We must have justice for the victims, and a full, transparent investigation into the detention, torture and killing of gay and bi men in Chechnya.”
The solidarity protest was organised by Amnesty International, Amnesty Scotland, Stonewall Scotland and the Equality Network and resulted in a letter and a 177,000-signature petition being delivered to Andrey A.Pritsepov, the Russian Consul General in Scotland.
“We are calling on the Russian and Chechen authorities to take immediate steps to end these activities and bring those responsible to justice”. Tim Hopkins
The Scottish Parliament condemned the Chechen authorities after a motion was introduced in April by Christina McKelvie, Hamilton, Larkhall and Stonehouse MSP.
Tim Hopkins, director of Equality Network, added: “People around the world have been horrified by the reports of abduction, torture and murder of men thought to be gay and bisexual in Chechnya. We are calling on the Russian and Chechen authorities to take immediate steps to end these activities and bring those responsible to justice.”
Campaigners have urged members of the public to continue their support of the LGBTI community and all dissidents in Chechnya and Russia as a whole. You can follow the day’s events and more on the campaign’s hashtag #Chechnya100
Picture courtesy of Stonewall Scotland
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