Council of Europe Condemns Persecution of Gay Persons in Chechnya under Initiative by Lithuanian MPs

Under the initiative by the members of the Parliament of the Republic of Lithuania, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) has condemned the persecution of homosexual persons by the Chechen authorities (Russian Federation) and called for ‘a special investigation’.

The resolution was submitted to the Council of Europe by Emanuelis Zingeris and Kęstutis Masiulis, members of the Lithuanian Parliament.

“Recent reports of large-scale abductions, secret detentions, torture and even extrajudicial killings of LGBT persons in Chechnya are moreover a new and particularly grave concern; the State-orchestrated mass scale persecution of a target group based on sexual orientation presents a grave concern of mass atrocities taking place within a Council of Europe member State, and compels the Council of Europe to take urgent steps and to adopt a resolution ordering a special investigation into the matter,” reads the resolution.

Emanuelis Zingeris, member of the Lithuanian Parliament, explained that the resolution was unanimously supported by the representatives from various political parties. According to the politician, the situation in Chechnya was presented to the parliamentarians in Strasbourg by the human rights activists and journalists from Russia.

“These are the crimes against humanity and policy of hitlerism. I was especially shocked by the stories of Russian democrats alleging that family members in Chechnya are being encouraged to kill their homosexual children themselves,” commented Mr. Zingeris.

According to Mr. Zingeris, organizations representing the interests of LGBT* community are urging the European Union (EU) member states to provide asylum to homosexual people in hiding.

The politician believes that the responsibility for the killings of homosexual men in Chechnya must be attributed to Ramzan Kadyrov, the Head of the Chechen Republic.

Linas Linkevičius, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Lithuania, has welcomed the adoption of the resolution. The Minister stressed that amendments to the final resolution were initiated by the Lithuanian parliamentarians.

“I welcome the adoption of PACE resolution on human rights violations in Chechnya with the amendments from Lithuania. LGBT persecution in Chechnya, Russia, must stop,” the Minister wrote on “Twitter”.

The Council of Europe unites 47 states but its decisions are not binding. The Assembly is comprised of the members from the national parliaments of the Member States. It is often used to address the issues related to human rights. In 2014, after the annexation of Crimea and a military intervention in eastern Ukraine, the Council has suspended the rights of the Russian representatives.

The Russian independent newspaper “Novaja Gazeta” has recently reported that during a campaign against homosexual persons in Chechnya, more than 100 men were detained and three of them were killed. Ramzan Kadyrov, the Head of the Chechen Republic, has denied these allegations.

Throughout the 1990’s and 2000’s, Chechnya suffered two separatist wars. However, under the harsh rule of Ramzan Kadyrov, the region was essentially pacified.

On April 5th, 2017 the National LGBT* rights organization LGL applied to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Lithuania regarding human rights violations in Chechnya (Russian Federation), urging to request the Russian authorities to immediately set-free all detained people and start investigation of the arbitrary detention, torture and killing. In the letter to the Ministry, Vladimir Simonko, Executive Director of LGL, stressed that “the Republic of Lithuania, as a member of the European Union and NATO, must not stay indifferent and has to send a message that violence against LGBT* persons will not be tolerated.” In its letter, the association LGL urged the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to remind the Russian authorities of their obligations to respect fundamental human rights both under the Russian Constitution and the international law.

On May 13th, 2017 the National LGBT* rights organization LGL will organize a protest under the framework of the traditional „Rainbow Days“ social campaign „Rainbow Bus“ outside the Embassy of the Russian Federation in Vilnius, aiming to call for action to protect the gay men being tortured in ‘concentration camps’ in Chechnya and draw attention to LGBT* human rights violations in Russia.