Hundreds of LGBT activists protest against ‘gay concentration camps’ in Chechnya
Hundreds of LGBT activists gathered outside the Russian Embassy in London yesterday to protest the detention of gay men in ‘concentration camps’ in Chechnya.
They carried placards saying “LGBT+ rights are human rights,”Queer lives matter, close the camps” and a tuba demanding that Prime Minister Theresa May speak out against concentration camps.
Lord Waheed Alli, Uk’s first gay peer, told PinkNews he wrote to over 300 MPs and colleagues.
He called on them to pressure the UN to investigate what has been happening in the region.
“I want to make sure that on Tuesday, when parliament comes back, this is an important issue for the elected and the unelected house.”
He also emphasised importance of showing up in the streets, “When you hear the stories of concentration camps and gay men being rounded up and beaten tortured and killed, it’s the responsibility of everyone to come out and say ‘we don’t accept that behaviour, we won’t tolerate concentration camps.'”
Usmann, a law student from Pakistan said, “We all need to use whatever safe spaces in the world we have in order to march behind those who cannot speak for themselves. We don’t want another state to think ‘oh the Chechens got away with it.’
Mohammed Ali is a Bangladeshi student added that he hoped this protest would show President Valdimir Putin that the people of the world are standing up against the persecution of gay people.
Steve Taylor, communications director for the European Pride Organisers Association and one of the organisers of the event said they initially hoped that 200 people might attend the protest.
The crowd reached capacity on the pavement outside the Embassy well before the event was scheduled to begin.
By the time pink flowers were laid in front of the Embassy, protesters occupied both sides of Bayswater Road.
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Russian opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta broke the news earlier this month that more than 100 gay men have been detained in Chechnya “in connection with their non-traditional sexual orientation”.
Chechen government spokesman Alvi Karimov previously denied the claims of the detention of gay men saying, “you can’t detain and harass someone who doesn’t exist in the republic.
“If there were such people in the Chechen republic, law enforcement wouldn’t have a problem with them because their relatives would send them to a place of no return.”
A spokesperson for the Kremlin denied any knowledge of a purge but claimed the Russian government would “investigate” the reports.
The disturbing reports, since corroborated by human rights groups, alleged that the men are being held in secret ‘concentration camp’-style prisons where they face torture and abuse.
Three men who fled the region shared their personal accounts with Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s Russian Service earlier this week.