Israeli LGBT Activists Demonstrate at Russian Embassy in Tel Aviv Over Persecution of Gay Men in Chechnya
More than 600 demonstrators descended upon the Russian Embassy in Tel Aviv on Friday to protest the persecution of gay men in Chechnya.
Chanting “never again,” the demonstrators — mobilized by “Agudah,” an Israeli LGBT rights organization — shut down Hayarkon Street, a major thoroughfare in downtown Tel Aviv where the Russian Embassy is located.
Speakers at the protest said that around 100 gay men had been detained in the prison camps in the autonomous southern Russian region, where they face beatings and torture. Three detainees have reportedly been executed.
LGBT activists in Israel and around the world have pointed to footage of a survivor of one of the camps telling a French interviewer that Chechen authorities are now instructing the parents of gay men to kill their sons as a matter of family honor.
“The authorities said to them: ‘Your son is a homosexual — sort it out or we’ll do it ourselves,'” the survivor told the France 24 television station. “Now they arrest everyone. They kill people, they do whatever they want.”
Russian authorities have routinely denied reports of the persecution, which first surfaced in April when Sir Alan Duncan, a minister at the British Foreign Office, told the UK parliament that “human rights groups report that these anti-gay campaigns and killings are orchestrated by the head of the Chechen republic, Ramzan Kadyrov.”
Duncan said his sources had told him that Kadyrov — a strongman ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin — wants the gay community in Chechnya, where the majority of the population are Caucasus Muslims, to be “eliminated” before the start of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which begins on May 26.