Russian embassy wrapped in Pride flag to protest Chechnya’s anti-gay purge.

They unfurled the flag alongside handing in a petition calling for the Russian government to intervene.

A pride flag with the IDAHOBT theme ‘justice’ printed on it was rolled-out outside the Russian embassy visitors entrance | Picture: Reporter’s own.

‘We’re here to hand in some post,’ Eleanor Kennedy said into the intercom outside the Russian Embassy, London.

Kennedy, alongside dozens of placard-holding supporters, were handing a petition calling for Russian President Vladimir Putin to respond to the second purge of LGBTI people in Chechnya.

Alongside the petition, she and her team laid out a giant Pride flag on the embassy steps today (17 May) in protest against the bloc’s silence. It was done to coincide with the International Day against Homophobia, Biphobia, Intersexsim and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT).

What was the protest?

At 10am today, dozens of LGBTI people and allies met outside the embassy and blanketed the sidewalk with a Pride flag and an array of multi-colored placards and signs. Contrasting to the cream-colored three-story building and dusky gray sky behind it.

One sign read: ‘Love is a Human Right.’ Another: ‘I am who I say I am.’

Dozens of LGBTI activists made their voices heard | Picture: Reporter’s own.

The protest was a collaboration between two of the largest human rights charities, Amnesty International and Stonewall. Rainbow RU, a London-based Russian community, also joined.

The trinity of activists were there to bring to light to arguably one of the biggest human rights atrocities in the 21st century so far.

In a notorious crackdown in April 2017, more than 100 men thought to be gay were abducted, tortured – and in some cases killed – in Chechnya in what appeared to be a coordinated purge.

‘They’re completely shirking all responsibility’.

This wasn’t the first time that the 33-year-old individuals at risk campaigner at Amnesty International UK tried to mail a petition to the embassy.

Kennedy told Gay Star News: ‘We’re here on IDHOBIT 2019 to hand in a petition that Amnesty International have been running calling on the Russian government to take responsibility for human rights abuses that have happened against the LGBTI community in Chechnya.

Ellie Hending attempting to hand deliver the petition to the Russian Embassy | Photo: Reporter’s own.

‘The Russian government, who are the de facto leaders of Chechnya, refuse to take any responsibility for this and have refused to cooperate with international calls for a legal investigation into these atrocities.

‘They’re completely shirking all responsibility.’

Kennedy and a co-worker went to hand-in the petition, but embassy guards communicated that this wasn’t possible. Kennedy would have to post the petition instead. ‘We’ll post by first class,’ she said.

Not the first petition, and not the last.

The 65,000-strong petition is the second Kennedy has tried to hand in. Her first coincided with the first recorded wave of attacks back in March 2017, she told me, as a can of Diet Coke was blown down the sidewalk.

‘Off the back of that, we ran an action similarly calling for the Russians to take responsibility. Tried to hand it into the embassy and they refused to engage.

As embassy guards politely asked protesters to pack-up, some supports decorated the mesh gates with dozens of rainbow roses | Photo: Reporter’s own.

‘The same thing has happened again. Just kicking the can further down the road.’

Why were they protesting?
Senna, 25, said to me ‘Merry IDAHOBIT.’ The Kingston-upon-Thames local was up in Kensington for the day along with her Amnesty International colleagues.

‘I’m a bisexual myself and I find what’s happening horrible,’ she told me, standing by a residential street. ‘There are no words to describe what is happening.

‘We need to change what’s happening. What we’re doing today is raising awareness and we have more than 200,000 people behind us.’

‘Continue to say that we’re here’.
This was a sentiment held by Leanne MacMillan, director of global programmes at Stonewall. ‘It’s incredibly important that we practise a politics of presence,’ she told me after the protest.

‘Over 65,000 people have signed this petition worldwide. We knew this was going to be for the long-haul.

‘This isn’t just an issue for the LGBTI people, this is about human rights in general. A crushing assault on human society in Russia and Eastern Europe spearheaded by Russia and other states.

‘I think the more that we can do to send a message that we’re calling for action. One of the tactics of the Russian state is to practise a politics of normalization, invisibility, and denial.

‘The best thing we can do is continue to say that we’re here, even when the actions aren’t hitting the headlines.’

Chechnya: A timeline of the atrocities.
Chechnya, or the Chechen Republic, is a subject of the Russian Federation located in the North Caucasus region. It has a population of 1.4 million and the capital is Grozny.

Its president is Ramzan Kadyrov, who has been in power since 2007. He tends to rule the country in accordance with traditional Islamic social codes, even if these contravene Russian law.

Chechnya relies on Russia for federal assistance, but Russian President Vladimir Putin has often turned a blind eye to Kadyrov’s human rights abuses or failed to act.

Since last year, LGBTI folk have been detained in makeshift prisons, strapped to homemade electric chairs, sexually assaulted with police nightsticks as the torture methods intensify.

While Russia decrminalized homosexuality during the breakup of the Soviet Union, the police in Chechnya have periodically detained queer people in extrajudicial arrests without repercussions from federal authorities.

We’re inviting you to make a difference today by donating to the Chechyna Appeal.

Every dollar, euro and pound you give will help evacuate LGBTI people in the most danger. And to pressure the Chechen authorities to stop this persecution.

Copyright www.gaystarnews.com

The level of fear in respect of LGBT neighbors among Russians has increased three times in ten years.

Russians feel the same degree of fear when they think that their neighbors will be from the Caucasus or Central Asia, as well as homosexual couples.

The results of the new survey leads “Levada Center”. It turned out that dysfunctional families, homosexual couples and members of religious sects are the most undesirable neighbors from the point of view of Russians. Concerning these groups of people negative attitudes prevail. And since 2006, the level of “fear” in relation to LGBT neighbors has increased threefold – from 7 to 22, while the degree of fear towards Caucasians or sectarians has almost not changed. For clarity, “Levada Center” provides the following table.

“The longest distance to cohabitation was recorded in relation to members of a religious sect, a homosexual couple, and a dysfunctional family, the potential neighborhood with which caused the respondents, rather,“ irritation, dislike ”or“ distrust, fear, ”sociologists summarize. Experts add that young people aged 18-24 are more tolerant of a possible neighborhood with a homosexual couple. Respondents with a higher education are one and a half times more likely to also show a neutral attitude towards entry ednyuyu apartment homosexual couples than respondents with less than secondary education.

Sociological surveys are not the first year indicate a significant increase in homophobia in Russia. So, in August 2017 it was reported: 55% of Russians treat LGBT citizens as migrants – “wary” or “very bad”. In August 2018, VTsIOM found out : 63% of Russians believe in the existence of a global “gay conspiracy” against their “spirituality”.

Earlier, foreign sociologists argued : homophobia of neighbors negatively affects the health of gays. The level of homophobia in different areas was determined by the number of adversaries or supporters of marriage equality. In areas where there was a high number of people who voted against gay marriage, researchers found that homosexuals were more likely to have psychological problems.

Copyright www.xgay.ru

Intersex woman evicted by landlord after police harassment in Russia.

Police allegedly forced her to strip and examined her genitals.

Berlin demonstration against homophobia in Russia. | Photo: Marco Fieber / Flickr

An intersex woman in Russia said her landlord evicted her after police allegedly harassed her.

Olga Moskvitina lives in Makhachkala a city on the western shore of the Caspian Sea.

She said a plain clothed police officer forced his way into her apartment. This happened after her identity documents which showed she had a male name were published on social media.

People on social media left hateful comments including, ‘people like that should be killed’.

According to a report on news site Lenta, the policeman allegedly made Moskvitina strip naked and examined her genitals. He also interrogated her about her genitals and threatened to out her to locals so the could kill her.

Moskvitina tried to explain that she is in fact intersex, but cannot update her identity documents to reflect her intersex status. As a result she is forced to identify as trans.

After the incident at her apartment, Moskvitina’s landlord then evicted citing ‘such affairs’ as a reason.

While it not illegal to be trans in Russia, the LGBTI community faces high levels of discrimination, intimidation and violence. In 2013, Russian president Vladimir Putin introduced the ‘gay propaganda’ law. It prevented the positive portrayal of the LGBTI community in mass media.

Copyright www.gaystarnews.com

Russian LGBTIs risk arrest by holding public vigil for gay Holocaust victims.

They held the vigil on Victory Day, one of Russia’s most important holidays.

LGBTI activist Petr Voskresenskii holds a vigil for gay Holocaust victims | Photo: Supplied

In an act of brave defiance, a group of LGBTI Russians commemorated the gay victims of the Nazi Holocaust.

Leading LGBTI activist Petr Voskresenskii secretly planned the event in St Petersburg held on Victory Day. The day is one of the most important holidays in Russia as it marks Nazi Germany’s surrender during World War II.

Russia celebrates the day with a parade through the Red Square in the capital Moscow. The parade is an opportunity to show off the country’s military might.

Voskresenskii and a small group laid flowers at the home of Sergey Nabokov whom the Nazis twice arrested on suspicion of homosexuality. He eventually died in a concentration camp in 1945, just months before the war ended.

‘According to the reports of the surviving prisoners in prison, Nabokov showed outstanding stamina, he helped the weak, shared food and clothing,’ Voskresenskii said.

The group also laid a pink triangle at his home. The pink triangle was a symbol the Nazis pinned to captives to identify them as homosexuals. It has since been reclaimed as a symbol of power by the LGBTI community.

Flowers and a pink triangle at the home of Sergey Nabokov who died in a Nazi concentration camp | Photo: Supplied

Why is this so brave?
Voskresenskii said the activists were ‘apprehensive’ about the public event. In 2013, Russia introduced the ‘gay propaganda’ law which banned the positive promotion of anything LGBTI.

Authorities have arrested LGBTI activists at Pride events across Russia. As recently as April police arrested 11 LGBTI activists during an annual Day of Silence protest.

Voskresenskii is also well known to police for his LGBTI activism and has been a target because of it.

‘The fact is that recently the authorities of St. Petersburg have been arresting people on any, even officially authorized actions, fining, making lists of activists,’ he said.

‘The activists were especially apprehensive about the fact that for the modern Russian authorities, Victory Day is a landmark holiday, one might even say “sacred”.

‘In fact, this is the first time in Russia when LGBT activists made an event on this day. This is primarily due to the fear of repression.’

Despite the apprehension the activists said the event took place without any problems.

‘On the contrary, passersby reacted positively to the action. The police fortunately was not around,’ Voskresenskii said.

The activist explained why the group decided to hold a public event and how it ties in to Russia’s opposition to Nazism.

‘We believe that the memory of the crimes of Nazism can protect the LGBT community in Russia,’ he said.

‘The authorities of Russia are publicly actively opposing themselves to Nazism. They claim that the fight against Nazism is an important value.

‘We want their words to correspond with their deeds. We want them to keep their promises.

‘In addition, we believe that historical memory helps the LGBT community to better understand themselves, helps to unite in the fight for a better future.’

The crimes of today
They also hoped drawing attention to the tragedies of the past can be an effective tool to combat the crimes of the present, including the ‘gay purge’ happening in Chechnya.

Chechen authorities have rounded up people on suspicion of being LGBTI, torturing and in some cases, executing them. But Russia has not spoken out or acted to stop the ongoing persecution.

‘Political leaders in the Kremlin have repeatedly stated that the fight against Nazism is one of the priorities of their policies, and they consider the victory in World War II one of the main historical achievements of the country,’ Voskresenskii said.

‘Human rights activists are calling on the Russian authorities to back up their words with a deed and stop violence against LGBT people.’

We’re inviting you to make a difference today by donating to the Chechyna Appeal.

Every dollar, euro and pound you give will help evacuate LGBTI people in the most danger. And to pressure the Chechen authorities to stop this persecution.

Copyright www.gaystarnews.com

Gay men ‘electrocuted and strung up by legs’ in new wave of torture in Chechnya, says human rights group.

Four men who fled conservative region say they were beaten and humiliated for up to 20 days with limited water.

Gay men are being electrocuted and strung up by their legs in a new wave of torture in Chechnya, according to a human rights group.

Human Rights Watch said it interviewed four gay men who claimed they fled the conservative, predominantly Muslim region after police allegedly beat and shocked them with electric currents while they were strung up by their legs.

The international group, headquartered in New York, said the accounts made by the men, who were allegedly detained for between three and 20 days between December 2018 and February 2019, were consistent with a complaint an LGBT+ activist filed in January.

Also, in January this year, a warning appeared on social media urging all vulnerable men and women to flee Chechnya as it was feared a new “anti-gay purge” was underway.

In 2017, activists said more than 100 gay men were detained and tortured in Chechnya during a “purge”, and that some were killed.

There was no immediate comment on the report from Chechen officials, who rejected the allegations in 2017.

Human Rights Watch said in a report on Wednesday that the men it interviewed reported being beaten, humiliated and held for up to 20 days with limited water.

The four said interrogators also demanded information about other gay men in Chechnya, according to the organisation.

One man said he had been living elsewhere but returned to Chechnya to attend a family wedding.

In the evening, he met a man he’d connected with through a dating app, and police arrived and took him away. The man said he believed he was set up.

Human Rights Watch said it thought the 2017 mistreatment of gay men was not adequately investigated.

Tanya Lokshina, the organisation’s associate director for Europe and Central Asia, said: “The absolute impunity for the anti-gay purge of 2017 emboldens the perpetrators.

“We have absolutely no evidence these round-ups were sanctioned by top-level Chechen leadership, but the police officials clearly felt at liberty to hold and torture those men.”

Homosexuality is decriminalised in Russia, but animosity towards sexual minorities still widely persists.

Copyright www.independent.co.uk