Several hundred protestors gathered outside the Russian Embassy in Notting Hill, London, yesterday evening.
They were responding to reports of a crackdown by authorities on gay men in the semi-autonomous Russian region of Chechnya.
According to Novaya Gazeta, around a hundred men are believed to have been arrested, detained in an illegal prison, interrogated and tortured since the beginning of March. Three are thought to have been killed.
Some reports talk of men being held in a ‘concentration camp’ – a internment camp at a former military headquarters in Argun, Chechnya.
Gay men from the region have given accounts of a horrific atmosphere of persecution, and many are trying to escape the region.
‘Enough is enough!’
Pride in London organized last night’s protest. It estimated that it attracted up to 1,000 demonstrators, many of whom carried placards registering their anger at the reported situation.
Speakers included Lord Waheed Alli. He told the crowd, ‘Fifty years ago we saw the decriminalization of homosexuality in the UK and it’s sad that we are looking at the prospect of so many things being reversed, particularly internationally.
‘Today we’re speaking out for our brothers and sisters in Russia and Chechnya. We are speaking out and saying “Enough is enough! We want action”.’
Following the speeches, flowers were laid upon a large pink triangle placed in front of the gates to the embassy.
Pride in London’s co-chair, Michael Salter-Church, told GSN that he was proud the organization was behind the demonstration.
‘I think it’s incredibly important that Pride in London, representing a global city, stand up for those people in the world who don’t have so much of a voice.’
He called reports of concentration camps ‘chilling’, and said that the aim of the protest was to amplify the voices of those worried by the reports. He also said it was important to bring pressure to bear on British politicians to take action.
When news of the persecution of gay men first emerged, the Chechnyan authorities denied them. Alvi Karimov, spokesperson for Chechnya leader Ramzan Kadyrov said they couldn’t be true because ‘You cannot detain and persecute people who simply do not exist in the republic.’
Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and the Russian LGBT Federation all say the claims are credible.
The Russian LGBT Federation is working with All Out to help LGBTI people in the region.