British government calls for urgent investigation into ‘abhorrent’ gay purge in Chechnya

Chechnya's leader Ramzan Kadyrov

The UK has joined the US in calling for an urgent investigation into reports that authorities in Chechnya are “purging” the gay community.

Reports emerged last week that gay people are being targeted in the region, which is part of Russia but has substantial autonomy.

Russian newspapers and human rights groups reported more than 100 gay men being detained “in connection with their non-traditional sexual orientation, or suspicion of such” as part of a purge.

At least three people are feared dead following the violent raids, which have been separately confirmed by the International Crisis Group and Human Rights Watch, both of which cite on-the-ground sources that appear to confirm gay men have been targeted for detention.

HRW called the developments “devastating”.

Novaya Gazeta, an independent Russian newspaper, reported detainees saying they were tortured and electrocuted in prison, while others described seeing prisoners beaten to death.

In a chilling response, a spokesperson for Chechnya’s leader Ramzan Kadyrov denied that there were any gay people to detain, insisting that “you can’t detain and harass someone who doesn’t exist in the republic”.

The Kremlin has denied any knowledge of a purge.

Foreign Office Minister Baroness Anelay said: “The detention and ill-treatment of over 100 gay men in Chechnya is extremely concerning.

“Reports have also suggested that at least three of these men have been killed.

“The statement by the regional government, implying that such treatment towards LGBT people is acceptable, is particularly abhorrent.”

The Foreign Office Minister, who has repeatedly spoken out against homophobia and so-called gay conversion therapies, said the government “condemns any and all persecution”.

The Baroness, who made an impassioned address at last year’s PinkNews Awards, added that the foreign office “calls on the authorities to promptly investigate and ensure that perpetrators of human rights abuses are brought to justice.”

Turning her attention to Russia, she said Putin’s government must act or risk exacerbating the already worsening situation for LGBT people in the country.

“The human rights situation for LGBT people in Russia has deteriorated significantly in recent years and we continue to voice our serious concern with Russian authorities at all levels.

“Russia’s international human rights obligations require them to protect citizens who may be at risk of persecution.

“We expect the Russian government to fulfil its obligations to this end, and to uphold the rule of law.”

Today, Buffy The Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon warned that gay people could be targeted in Trump’s America following reports that authorities in Chechnya are ‘purging’ the gay community.