Theresa May promises “urgent action” over anti-gay camps in Chechnya

Chatham House via Flickr

Prime Minister Theresa May has finally spoken out against Chechnya’s horrific anti-gay abuse.

In early April, a number of human rights organisations confirmed that gay men were being rounded up by Chechen police and detained in what are widely being referred to as modern-day ‘concentration camps’.

The men were held “in connection with their non-traditional sexual orientation” and victims have been tortured, forced to confess information on other gay men, and even murdered.

Related: Gay men in Chechnya are being hunted down by their own families to be killed

While major political figures including Hillary Clinton and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have spoken against Chechnya’s human rights abuses, Theresa May remained quiet on the matter – until now.

In a letter to Labour MEP Seb Dance, May responded to a plea from a cross-party group of politicians and human rights organisations by acknowledging the “deeply troubling issue” facing the LGBT+ community.

She wrote: “Officials from our Embassy in Moscow have raised our concerns at a senior level with the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and are exploring possibilities for a joint démarche with our international partners in the country.

“Urgent action is also being taken to explore how best to provide support to the LGBT+ community in the region.”

Officials in Chechnya have claimed that gay men “simply do not exist” in the Republic, and that if they did, they wouldn’t have to do anything as their relatives would “send them somewhere from which there is no returning”.

Referring to those comments, May continued: “The UK Government has made clear that this response, implying that such treatment towards LGBT+ people is tolerable, is particularly abhorrent.”

She also claimed that the UK “regularly” raises concerns over LGBT+ rights with Russian authorities, particularly with regards to the country’s ‘gay propaganda’ law which prevents the ’promotion’ of being gay to minors.

A recent report out of Chechnya revealed that a 17-year-old boy was pushed from a ninth-floor balcony and killed by his uncle because of his sexuality.

According to one survivor who managed to escape, Chechen police are telling parents of gay men to kill their own children – referred to as “cleaning their honour with blood” – or they’ll do it for them.

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