LGBT rights activists project giant messages onto Trump-Putin summit venue

LGBT rights activists have called on Donald Trump and Vladimir Putin to address the anti-gay purge in Chechnya, by projecting a giant message onto the front of the building where they are set to meet.

The US and Russian Presidents are set to meet today (July 16) in Finland for a much-anticipated summit, but Russia’s human rights abuses against LGBT people are not on the agenda for the meeting.

Russia maintains an ‘Orwellian gay propaganda’ law which is used to clamp down on the LGBT community, while a homophobic purge began in the autonomous region of Chechnya in 2017 that has shattered the Chechen LGBT community.

Ahead of the summit, LGBT rights activists from the Human Rights Campaign projected an enormous message on the Presidential Palace in Helsinki – where the pair will meet – calling out  the two leaders.

A message of protest on the side of the palace (Courtesy Human Rights Campaign)

The messages said: “Trump and Putin: Stop the crimes against humanity in Chechnya. Investigate LGBTQ persecution in Chechnya. Bring the perpetrators to justice. The whole world is watching. Silence is deadly. #EyesOnChechnya”

The US-based Human Rights Campaign alleges that “fore than 15 months, Donald Trump and his administration have refused to publicly condemn the systematic torture, abuse, and murder of LGBTQ people occurring in Chechnya as Vladimir Putin has licensed the violence to continue. More than a 100 LGBTQ people have been rounded up, tortured, and abused”.

Ty Cobb, Director of HRC Global, said: “Trump has unconscionably turned a blind eye to some of the worst anti-LGBTQ atrocities in a generation, including monstrous attacks on gay and bisexual men in Chechnya.

“HRC is here in Helsinki to demand Donald Trump end his deafening silence, publicly condemn these Chechen crimes against humanity, and call on Putin to investigate and bring the perpetrators to justice.”

A message of protest on the side of the palace (Courtesy Human Rights Campaign)

Igor Kochetkov, chair of the Russian LGBT Network, said: “We are grateful to all people and organizations who support our work in Chechnya. International attention is essential to putting pressure on Russian authorities to take action.

“Russian authorities’ deny even the mere existence of LGBT people in Chechnya, but with continued international pressure, we aim to stop the persecution, torture and killing of LGBT people in Chechnya, and ensure that those responsible for these crimes against humanity are brought to justice.”

A message of protest on the side of the palace (Courtesy Human Rights Campaign)

Viima Lampinen, chairperson of Seta, Finland’s national organization for LGBTI rights, said: “Finland is known as a global leader in LGBTI rights, and the Trump and Putin administrations should learn from that example.

“LGBT Chechens are being deprived of their voice, their freedom and even their lives by state-sanctioned oppression and violence. Those of us who have a voice, particularly national governments that claim to support and defend human rights, have a moral and ethical obligation to ensure that the perpetrators are brought to justice.”

A message of protest on the side of the palace (Courtesy Human Rights Campaign)

UK Prime Minister Theresa May recently praised LGBT rights activist Peter Tatchell – after he was arrested in Moscow for protesting the Chechnya purge during the World Cup.