Hundreds attend vigil against ‘gay genocide’ in Chechnya
More than 800 people joined a vigil in Melbourne to show their support for gay men who are being persecuted in Chechnya.
Reports last month emerged that more than 100 men had been detained in the Russian region during a ‘gay purge’, with many feared dead.
The candlelit vigil took place in Federation Square and was attended by Australian Greens Senator Janet Rice and state Labour MP Danielle Green.
Australians protested against the events taking place in the Russian region and urged their government to take action.
The two politicians condemned the persecution in Chechnya where men are reportedly beaten and tortured with electricity.
Rice said: “When we heard of the horrors coming out of Chechnya, we wanted to take action.
“There is so much more that we as Australians could be doing.
“We could be leading an international effort with the UN to put pressure on the Russian government to be condemning these horrors.”
The vigil’s organisers Catherine Barrett and Adam Pulford were overwhelmed by the turnout to the protest.
“People in Australia are feeling horrified and hopeless after hearing the reports coming out of Chechnya, but together we are powerful,” Barrett said.
However, Russian authorities later dismissed claims of persecution in Chechyna as “false” and “smears”.
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After stating that he will co-operate with Russia in the investigation, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has denied the existence of gay men in the region, suggesting that any homosexuals must be ‘fake Chechens’.
He also pledged to eliminate all gay men in the region before the start of Ramadan, according to reports.
A Russian charity has reportedly freed more than 40 men from the persecution after launching a helpline to provide assistance to the victims.
Numerous shocking stories from the region have been shared, including families who killed their own relatives after finding out the truth about their sexuality.