Council of Europe takes action against Chechnya's 'gay purge'

On Saturday, an official from the Council of Europe visited Chechnya to discuss reports of the detention and torture of LGBT+ people.

Ramzan Kadyrov against rainbow flag

An official from the Council of Europe has met with Chechen officials over reports of the continued detention and torture of LGBT+ people on Saturday. Frank Schwabe, a member of the Council’s Parliamentary Assembly (PACE), told AFB, “There are very serious reports about violations against women, against LGBT people and about illegal detentions. We cannot accept it.”

Since Russia returned to PACE in June 2019, this is the first visit of its kind. It also marks the first visit to Chechnya in nine years. Schwabe stated, “Moscow signed the European convention of human rights, it has the obligation to follow the rules in their entire country.”

The visit was spurred on by reports from LGBT+ people saying they had been tortured and detained by law enforcement agencies dating back to 2017. In January 2019, Russian LGBT+ rights group reported a new wave of ‘gay purges’.

Before the visit, the Head of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, called the reports “made up.” He further stated, “Here men marry women and women marry men. It was like this for thousands of years, and that is how it will always be, whatever the West tells us.”

Schwabe’s planned meeting with Ramzan Kadyrov did not go ahead. However, the talks that did take place was “an important sign of the renewal of dialogue,” as stated by Schwabe. 

On Twitter, Schwabe said, “During the meeting with the President of the @dumagovru, Viacheslav Volodin, I made it clear that under the Conventions of the @coe, the government of #Russia has the responsibility for ensuring that there are no #humanrights violations in #Chechnya and in the #NorthCaucasus.”

Previously, Human Rights Watch released a new report detailing interviews with four men who were detained and abused as part of Chechnya’s ‘gay purge’, giving the most startling evidence of official’s conducting horrific acts to date. Amnesty UK Rainbow Network stated on Twitter, “As attacks continue, it is vital that we put as much international pressure on the Russian government to end this cruel human rights abuse.”

Schwabe’s visit highlights the necessity for applying pressure to bring an end to the ‘gay purges’. As he stated in a phone interview, “They claimed there is no LGBT community in Chechnya so there could not be any violence against them.” With Russia’s return to PACE, there is a strong push from officials of the Council of Europe to ensure the Conventions are upheld.

© 2019 GCN (Gay Community News). All rights reserved.

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