The British Prime Minister has called the crackdown against the LGBT community in Chechnya “abhorrent” and has promised to take action.
Theresa May addressed the subject in a letter, dated 10 May, in response to MPs who had requested the government’s intervention in the matter.
“I am writing to thank you and your co-signatories for your letter about the ill-treatment of men in Chechnya because of their sexual orientation. This is a deeply troubling issue and I appreciate you sharing your concerns with me,” she wrote.
“You are right to raise concerns about the unacceptable statement issued by the regional government in Chechnya. The UK Government has made clear that this response, implying that such treatment towards LGBT+ people is tolerable, is particularly abhorrent.”
“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 country.
“Urgent action is also being taken to explore how best to provide support to the LGBT+ community in the region,” May said.
She further revealed that the UK has also repeatedly raised concerns “about the Russian law prohibiting the promotion of ‘non-traditional’ sexual relations to minors since it came into place in June 2013”.
May is the second global leader, after German Chancellor Angela Merkel, to publicly condemn the persecution of gay men in Chechnya and to call on Russia to investigate the reports.
Last week, Russian President Vladimir Putin said he would support an official investigation into the purge which was reportedly conducted with the backing of the head of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov.
According to reports, verified by numerous sources and victims, the Chechen authorities rounded up around 100 gay men, who were then detained in secret facilities, tortured and in some cases killed.
There have also been claims that the families of some victims were urged by the authorities to murder their LGBT relatives in so called “honour killings”. It is unclear to what extent the persecution is still ongoing.
In an early response to the reports, Kadyrov’s spokesperson said that gay people could not be arrested in Cheneya, because none existed there. He further suggested that should any exist it would be acceptable for their families to “sent them to where they could never return”.