For gays in Chechnya: A U.S. plea, a petition, a prayer

Among many international responses to reports of mass arrests of LGBT people in Chechnya were an official U.S. State Department call for an investigation by the Russian government, a petition from Amnesty International, and a brief prayer from a queer Christian blogger.

U.S. Department of State

The statement from the U.S.  State Department demanded action from the Russian government in response to reported human rights abuses in its semi-autonomous Republic of Chechnya:

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson

“We are aware of troubling reports that local authorities in the Republic of Chechnya have arrested or detained more than 100 men, as well as reports that three of those detained were killed.

“We condemn violence against any individuals based on their sexual orientation or any other basis. We urge the Russian government to conduct an independent and credible investigation into the alleged killings and mass arrests, and hold the perpetrators responsible.

“We were likewise deeply disturbed by local authorities statements that apparently condone and even incite violence against LGBTI persons.

“We are very concerned by the widespread discrimination and violence against LGBTI persons in Russia or any society. We call on the Russian government to protect all people from discrimination and violence, and allow the free exercise of the freedoms of expression, association, peaceful assembly, and religion or belief.”

Amnesty International UK

An online petition by Amnesty International UK had collected 71,473 signatures by the time when this article was published.

Amnesty International stated:

“Chechnya: stop abducting and killing gay men

“Hundreds of men suspected of being gay are being abducted, tortured and even killed in the southern Russian republic of Chechnya.

“The Chechen government won’t admit that gay men even exist in Chechnya, let alone that they ordered what the police call ‘preventive mopping up’ of people they deem undesirable. We urgently need your help to call out the Chechen government on the persecution of people who are, as they put it, of ‘non-traditional orientation’, and urge immediate action to ensure their safety.”

Queer blogger’s prayer

Christian blogger Melinda Selmys wrote on Patheos.com:

“As a queer Christian blogger, I suppose I should have something to say about the murder and torture of gay men in Chechnya. I’ve got nothing. A gaping ache, that’s all really. Tears. The image of Christ crucified and that face, crying out to heaven: “Why?” …

“For your gay children in Chechnya, o Lord, we pray.

“Miserere nobis. Miserere nobis. Dona nobis pacem.”

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Written by Colin Stewart

Colin Stewart is a 45-year journalism veteran living in Southern California. After his retirement from paid newspaper work in 2011, he launched Erasing 76 Crimes and helped with the Spirit of 76 campaign that assembled a multi-national team of 26 LGBTI rights activists to advocate for change during the International AIDS Conference in Washington, D.C., in July 2012. He is the president of the St. Paul’s Foundation for International Reconciliation, which supports LGBTQ+ rights advocacy journalism, including the Erasing 76 Crimes news site and the African Human Rights Media Network. Contact him via Twitter @76crimes or by email at info@76crimes.com. Mailing address: 21 Marseille, Laguna Niguel CA 92677 USA.

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