Theresa May has spoken out about the ongoing detention and abuse of gay men in Chechnya.
Horrifying accounts of brutality and killings have been emerging from the largely self-governing Russian republic over the last month, after Novaya Gazeta reported that over 100 gay and bisexual men aged 16-50 had been detained by authorities over the last few months.
A newspaper claimed over the weekend to have a list of more than 30 gay men who have been executed by the authorities or their own families during the terrifying campaign of violence. Just last week, a gay teenager died after being pushed off a balcony by his uncle.
One month after the first allegations of abuse emerged, Prime Minister Theresa May has written a letter addressed to MEP Seb Dance in which she condemns the “abhorrent” treatment of gay men by the Chechen regime.
“This is a deeply troubling issue and I appreciate you sharing your concerns with me,” wrote the Prime Minister.
May confirmed that officials from the UK’s Embassy in Moscow “have raised our concerns at a senior level with the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and are exploring opportunities 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+ people in the region.”
The Prime Minister’s letter did not suggest any action would be taken to help those who have been affected by the violence in Chechnya.
Despite the growing evidence of mass targeting of gay men in the region, a spokesperson for Chechnya’s Russian-backed leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, has denied the reports, insisting that gay people do “not exist” in the republic.
The spokesperson added: “If such people existed in Chechnya, law enforcement would not have to worry about them, as their own relatives would have sent them to where they could never return.”
The Prime Minister wrote that this response is “unacceptable”, and confirmed that “the UK government has made it clear that this response, implying that such treatment towards LGBT+ people is tolerable, is particularly abhorrent.”
Ms May ends the letter by confirming that the UK government “regularly” raises concerns about LGBT+ with Russian authorities, particularly the controversial Russian ‘gay propaganda’ law.
A spokesperson for Russian President Vladimir Putin said last month that survivors were choosing to remain anonymous because there was no evidence of any wrongdoing.
Read the full letter below:
Pleased to receive reply from the PM outlining measures UK is taking on plight of gay men in Chechnya. Crucial we work x-party & w/ allies pic.twitter.com/F16ZNwcte2
— Seb Dance MEP (@SebDance) May 10, 2017