Ambassador claims there is ‘no discrimination against gays’

A Russian Ambassador has claimed there is no discrimination against LGBT people in his country.

The Russian Ambassador to Ireland, Maxim Peskhov, made the claims in a meeting with several gay members of the Irish Parliament.

Senator Jerry Buttimer, an openly gay member of the Seanad Éireann, had set up the meeting with the Ambassador to discuss ongoing reports of a purge of gay people in Chechnya.

However, the politician recalled afterwards that the Ambassador flat-out denied that gay people face any homophobia in Russia.

Russian Ambassador to Ireland, Maxim Peskhov

Writing for The Journal, Mr Buttimer explained: “It was no surprise to us that we were hit with a metaphoric brick wall when we raised the issue.

“It seems the Ambassador continued with the example set by other representatives in stating, ‘there is no discrimination of gay people in Russia’.

“One could not but be disheartened at his lack of understanding or appreciation, or perhaps he was playing the old Russian traditionalist in just obfuscating and denying, but none the less it was incredible to watch his performance.

“Although I was disappointed with the Ambassador’s lack of willingness to work to promote equality, I hope this is a step in a positive direction to engage in future open dialogue regarding LGBT issues in Russia.

“I think it is very important to challenge people’s viewpoints and perceptions.”

He added: “We must continue to promote LGBT equality here that can send a message internationally, as in 2015, that our country in many different ways is concerned with progress, international good practice and human rights.

“We can make a difference. We can change rights and bring in entitlements and ensure that all people can live to their full potential.”

A Russian diplomatic official previously claimed reports of a gay purge have been used as “a propaganda campaign against Russia around the world”.

Earlier this month Chechnya leader Ramzan Kadyrov denied that there have ever been any gay men to persecute in the region, instead calling them “fake” Chechens.

The region’s leader said he would cooperate with Russian president Vladimir Putin’s investigation into reports of gay men being abducted, tortured and killed in the republic, though he denied any gay Chechens actually existed.

Petition: Stop the persecution of gay men in Chechnya

Following the initial reports, it was revealed that Chechnya authorities are forcing gay men into concentration camps, sparking an outcry from LGBT and human rights activists across the world.

Vladimir Putin and Ramzan Kadyrov

A number of heart-breaking stories from the region have been shared, including stories of parents of gay people who were issued a warning to kill their children before police killed them in torture camps.

Tanya Lokshina, from the Human Rights Watch, said that Chechen authorities had been conducting “extrajudicial executions, enforced disappearances, torture and cruel and degrading treatment” over the span of the last two decades.

Kadyrov has also pledged to “eliminate” the gay community in Chechnya by the start of Ramadan, according to British Foreign Officials.

Russia enforces a 2014 ‘gay propaganda’ law, which outlaws “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships” among minors.

The law also bans people sharing “distorted ideas about the equal social value of traditional and non-traditional sexual relationships”. Authorities across Russia have exploited the powers to censor LGBT content online in the past, as well as in the media.