Leeds Rally Against Homophobia in Chechnya
Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta and several human rights activists have alleged that Chechen police are detaining over 100 “suspected” gay men in concentration camps and have already murdered at least 3. It has also been suggested that many others have been handed to their families with the agreement that the family would perform an “honour killing”.
Alvi Karimov, spokesperson for Chechnya’s leader Ramzan Kadyrov, has denied this and furthermore stated “You cannot detain and persecute people who simply do not exist in the republic”.
He proceeded to claim “If there were such people in Chechnya, the law-enforcement organs wouldn’t need to have anything to do with them because their relatives would send them somewhere from which there is no returning.”
This statement has been brushed off by a spokesman for the region’s interior ministry as “an April fool’s joke” - highly unlikely and even if it were true, the polar opposite of funny.
The subject of LGBT+ identity in Russia is highly taboo so information about this story is not fully verifiable, however the author of the newspaper is a leading authority on Chechnya, and respected human rights expert Ekaterina Sokiryanskaya has told the New York times and the Guardian that she has received similar reports.
Nonetheless, the implication of this atrocity in the first place, and moreover the existing hostile attitude of Russia towards LGBT+ individuals is horrific and has no place in this day and age.
This is a chilling and deeply upsetting story to read about. Although we in the UK may not be able to directly impact Russian or Chechen authorities, we can show our disgust with their treatment of the LGBT+ community and demonstrate our resilience, pride and EXISTENCE by rallying together on 22nd April.
Leeds is well known for our strong, diverse LGBTQ+ community and it is essential that we come together to show our solidarity with our counterparts in Chechnya.