MEPs demand Theresa May speak out over Chechnya ‘horror’ abuse of gay men
European politicians are demanding the British Prime Minister speak out over reports of abuse to gay men in Chechnya.
Russian newspapers and human rights groups say more than 100 gay men have been detained “in connection with their non-traditional sexual orientation, or suspicion of such” as part of a purge, with three people feared killed, in the territory.
MEPs from Labour, Conservatives and the Green Party have now written to Theresa May requesting she call an immediate meeting with the Russian ambassador over the situation.
Despite the story first breaking last week, the Prime Minister and Foreign Secretary, Boris Johnson, have yet to speak out.
The MEPs’ letter, seen by PinkNews, reads: “We are writing to you to express our horror at the situation befalling LGBT persons and in particular gay men in Chechnya.
“In the last few weeks, over 100 (perceived) homosexual men have been detained on the basis of their sexuality and have been tortured by electric current, beaten and forced to disclose the personal contacts of other gay men in Chechnya.
“The Russian LGBT Network can confirm at least three murders.”
It continues: “Clearly these actions are abhorrent, and we ask that the UK government swiftly condemn the Chechen leadership, and take this to the highest level.
“We are asking Her Majesty’s Government to call an immediate meeting with the Ambassador of the Russian Federation to the UK to seek an explanation for this outrage.”
Junior UK Foreign Office minister Baroness Anelay has called on Russia to investigate the mass detention of gay men in Chechnya.
In a statement to PinkNews, Baroness Anelay said: “The detention and ill-treatment of over 100 gay men in Chechnya is extremely concerning. Reports have also suggested that at least three of these men have been killed.
“The statement by the regional Government, implying that such treatment towards LGBT people is acceptable, is particularly abhorrent.
“We condemn any and all persecution, and call on the authorities to promptly investigate and ensure that perpetrators of human rights abuses are brought to justice.”
The Kremlin has denied any knowledge of a purge of gay men in the region.
A spokesperson for the Chechen government also denied that they were abusing and imprisoning gay people, claiming that “you can’t detain and harass someone who doesn’t exist in the republic”.
The Chechen Republic is a federal subject of Russia, but has its own government and court system, and is predominantly Muslim, unlike Russia.
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Based on interviews with eyewitnesses and survivors, Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta reports that a secret prison has been set up in the town of Argun to detain the men arrested in the purge.
One man who was released from the camp told the newspaper that he was subjected to violent “interrogations” at the camp, as Chechen officials attempted to get him to confess the names and locations of more gay men.
The officials also seized his mobile phone, targeting his network of contacts regardless of whether they were gay or not.
The detainees face electric shock torture and violent beatings, while some of them have been held to ransom and used to extort their families.
The letter has been signed by MEPs Seb Dance, Ian Duncan, Syad Kamall, Glenis Wilmott, Vicky Ford, Anneliese Dodds, Neena Gill, Julie Girling, Keith Taylor, Paul Brannen, Emma McClarkin, Alex Mayer, Claude Moraes, Charles Tannock, Clare Moody, Catherine Stihler, Linda McAvan, Molly Scott Cato, Afzal Khan, Mary Honeyball, Julie Ward, Theresa Griffin, Derek Vaughan and Ashley Fox.