I am deeply shocked by the reports of detention, disappearances and killings of gay men in Chechnya by Russian authorities, following such reports from the newspaper Novaya Gazeta and independent accounts recently reported by The Guardian.
Last month I tabled a question to the European Commission on this issue with my Labour colleague Seb Dance MEP. This is my question to the Vice President and High Representative from 12th April 2017.
Question for written answer E-002708/2017
to the Commission (Vice-President / High Representative)
Julie Ward (S&D) and Seb Dance (S&D)
Subject: VP/HR - Detention and killings of allegedly gay men in Chechnya
There have been a growing number of reports of detention, disappearances, and killings of gay men in Chechnya by Russian authorities. The Chechen regional government has said that ‘homosexuals do not exist in Chechnya’, while the Russian Prime Minister dismissed the reports as ‘an April Fool’s joke’. President Putin’s spokesperson stated that ‘it is a question for law enforcement’ and that he was ‘not an expert in the field of non-traditional sexual orientation’.
In view of the increasing volume of reports by the press and NGOs, and the dismissive attitudes of Russian government authorities:
1. What steps will the VP/HR and Member States take to bring an end to these overtly homophobic round-ups, to secure the release of all those detained and to ensure that these events are investigated with the perpetrators brought to justice?
2. What steps will the EU and its Member States take to better promote LGBTI rights and awareness of those rights in Russia?
I will share the Commission’s response to my questions with you as soon as I hear and will keep you updated on my work in the European Parliament on this hugely important issue.
On Thursday 18th May, the European Parliament held a debate on the situation in Chechnya. I spoke in the debate to condemn the shocking reports of persecution of gay men and I called on the international community to act resolutely to put pressure on the Russian authorities.
The EU is a key protector of human rights across the world and I said that we must all ensure those who fight for human rights have the support they need.
This a link to the European Parliament article, following the debate last week. http://www.europarl.europa.eu/news/en/press-room/20170511IPR74352/persecution-of-gay-men-in-chechnya-meps-call-for-urgent-investigation
You may be interested in reading the statement from the European Parliament President, Antonio Tajani, who has firmly condemned the attacks. The following link is from the European Parliament’s Intergroup on LGBT rights: http://www.lgbt-ep.eu/press-releases/european-parliament-condemns-detention-torture-and-killings-gay-men-in-chechnya/
I have also included link here to a video of Labour MP Stephen Doughty (Cardiff South and Penarth) asking an Urgent Question to the Minister in the House of Commons: http://parliamentlive.tv/event/index/e3896dd5-cd04-42ad-a097-ae18df5e415e?in=10:33:05. The Shadow Foreign Secretary, Emily Thornberry MP also responds on this issue at 10:43:15.