Protest planned against detention and killing of gay men in Chechnya

A protest has been planned in London in response to the detention and killing of gay men in Chechnya, as horrifying reports of widespread human rights abuses against the LGBT+ community in the self-governing southern Russian republic continue to emerge. Over 800 people have expressed interest so far on the Facebook page for the event, titled 'NO to LGBT+ Oppression in Chechnya' Reports by Russian opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta over the last week state that over 100 men aged 16-50 have been detained by local authorities over the last few months. At least three men are known to have been killed, though the paper estimates the real figure to be higher. Witness and survivor testimonies have alleged that detainees have been hunted down via social media over the last few months before being imprisoned together in large groups or 'camps', where they have been beaten and tortured - sometimes to death - by official authorities. The organisers of the protest, which will take place at Bayswater Road and Ossington Street from 5:30pm on April 12, tell attendees: "Bring banners, flags and most importantly bring yourselves to challenge this oppression and show solidarity with LGBT+ people in Russia. "It will be a PEACEFUL and LEGAL protest." Organisers also confirmed that the police are aware of the protest in order to "facilitate a safe event".

Despite the growing evidence of mass targeting of gay men in the region, a spokesperson for Chechnya's Russian-backed leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, has denied the reports, insisting that gay people do "not exist" in the republic.

The spokesperson added: "If such people existed in Chechnya, law enforcement would not have to worry about them, as their own relatives would have sent them to where they could never return."

The legal status of homosexuality in the predominantly Muslim region of Chechnya is unclear, but authorities have historically turned a blind eye to anti-gay violence and murder, while Kadyrov has previously said he approves of honour killings.