People from all walks of life are coming together in London to call on the Russian government to stop the anti-gay purge happening in Chechnya so that it does not ‘lead to another holocaust’.
A number of major LGBTI London organizations have come together to organize the Queer Power rally on Sunday 27 January. They want to raise awareness about the ongoing persecution, torture, detainment and execution of gay men and women in Chechnya.
That date just so happens to coincide with the Holocaust Memorial day A date deliberately chosen by organizer Dan Glass.
‘If we don’t learn from history, then history will repeat itself,’ Glass told Gay Star News.
As a gay, Jewish man whose family survived the Holocaust during World War II, Glass realized he grew up never hearing how the Nazis also targeted LGBTI people. He doesn’t want that to happen to LGBTI people in Chechnya.
‘People are dying,’ he said. ‘The past is not the past because this is what’s going on now.’
‘We shouldn’t be complacent because it’s happening over there in Chechnya, because it could happen here. We have to help.’
A number of surprise performances and speakers will appear at the rally. But people are also asked to bring a pair of shoes to add to a mound outside the Russian Embassy. The mound will resemble the pile of shoes outside the notorious concentration camp, Auschwitz, during WWII.
‘People can get their shoes back at the end, but we ask that you keep an eye on them so you don’t lose them,’ Glass said.
Chechnya’s giving the ‘green light’ for violence against LGBTI people
Nik Jovčić-Sas is the man behind the blog Orthodox Provocateur, raising awareness about LGBTQ+ rights in Eastern Europe.
He has worked closely with LGBTI refugees who fled from Russia and said placing international pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin would be critical to stopping the ‘gay purge’ in Chechnya.
‘One thing I’ve found shocking over the past few days… is that the atrocities have been continuing for some time but the Putin regime hasn’t cracked down on it and it’s inspiring people to go out and hunt gay people,’ Jovčić-Sas said.
‘It’s not just the injustice or the human rights abuses that makes this so terrible, it’s that Putin is not cracking down on it and is giving people the green light to target LGBTI people.’
As an expert on LGBTI issues in the region, Jovčić-Sas might not be filled with hope the atrocities will end soon, but knows that raising awareness could make a huge difference.
‘We have to keep pressing on this,’ he said. ‘As someone who’s worked with a lot of people that have gone through persecution, it has to stop.’
‘If we can’t force Putin’s hand, then we can convince our country’s to give maximum support to the refugees.’
‘I’m a human first’
For Muslim LGBTI activist Ejel Khan, he simply can’t turn a blind eye to what’s happening in Chechnya. That’s why he’s going to the rally on Sunday.
‘It’s incumbent on all of us who enjoy freedoms in our own countries to go to the rally,’ he said.
‘We as individual citizens must show solidarity with the Chechen LGBT community.
‘We have a platform that if we don’t use it will be on our conscious for a long time.
‘Go out there, make your voice heard.’
Queer Power – Chechnya rally
Where: Bayswater Road, opposite Russian Embassy, 6/7 Kensington Palace Gardens, Kensington, London W8 4QP, UK – nearest tube Notting Hill Gate
When – 1-2pm on Sunday 27 January 2019