Rally Against Persecution of Gays in Chechnya (Russia) & Iran: Press Release – for immediate release
May 1 2017
On Sunday May 7 from 4:00 to 6:00 pm, LGBTory Canada, along with co-sponsors Canadians for Democracy in Russia and the International Centre for Human Rights, will be holding a rally outside Toronto’s Old City Hall at 60 Queen St W. (Please like and share our Facebook Event). There, we will be drawing attention to the appalling treatment of LGBT people in Chechnya and Iran who are being rounded up, tortured and murdered by their own governments. We will also demand that Prime Minister Trudeau and the Government of Canada step up to rescue these vulnerable people.
Chechnya is a mostly Muslim semi-autonomous republic that is part of the Russian Federation. Since 2007 it has been ruled by President Ramzan Kadyrov, a violent authoritarian who controls a private militia which kidnaps and tortures opponents of the regime. In recent years Kadyrov’s regime has been enacting and enforcing policies intended to impose aspects of Sharia law on the population. Many of these laws target the LGBT community in Chechnya. Since 1997, the Chechen Criminal Code’s Article 148 punishes "anal sexual intercourse between a man and a woman or a man and a man". For first-and second-time offenders, the punishment is caning. A third conviction is punishable by death, which can be carried out in a number of ways including stoning or beheading. Kadyrov has reportedly stepped up his harassment of gay men in recent months.
The details emerging from Chechnya are disturbing. As reported by Russian journalists, Chechen authorities have detained and physically abused some 200 gay men in concentration camps. Three men have been reportedly murdered. Thirty have managed to escape the country. The Chechen government has threatened to kill the Russian journalists who broke the story.
The Government of the Islamic Republic of Iran is also persecuting its own LGBT citizens. In early April, as part of a long-running campaign against LGBT Iranians, authorities arrested 30 men between the ages of 16 and 30 at a private residence and charged them with sodomy. They will be sent to a medical facility for humiliating anal examinations to provide evidence of homosexual activity. If convicted, they face the death penalty. Since 1979, according to Amnesty International, some 5 000 gay men and lesbians have been executed in Iran for crimes related to their sexual orientation.
The Government of Canada under Prime Minister Stephen Harper had an exemplary record in protecting LGBT refugees from regions of the world where they are most vulnerable. In particular, Harper’s Minister of Immigration Jason Kenney was instrumental in rescuing LGBT people from Iran. The government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, however, has discontinued the previous government’s policy of prioritizing LGBT refugees from countries where they are in danger, and has yet to take any action to protect LGBT people in Chechnya and Iran who face arrest, torture, and execution.
We demand that the governments of Iran, Chechnya and Chechnya’s supporters in the Russian government immediately end the persecution of LGBT citizens. We also demand that Prime Minister Trudeau and the Government of Canada take immediate steps to rescue them by granting them refugee visas and expediting their evacuation to Canada.
The civilized world has reacted with revulsion to the stories about the targeting of LGBT people in Chechnya and Iran. Please join us on May 7 to send a strong message to the governments of those countries, and to the Government of Canada, that this situation cannot stand.
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