Northern Ireland news

Protest at Belfast City Hall against detention of gay men in Chechnya

The Rainbow Project organised the protest at Belfast City Hall against the Chechen government's reported detention of gay men. Picture by Hugh Russell
John Monaghan

A DEMONSTRATION has been held at Belfast City Hall against a crackdown on homosexuality in Chechnya.

The protest organised by the Rainbow Project followed reports that the Chechen government had rounded up men suspected of being gay.

More than 100 men were said to have been detained in the southern Russian republic, with at least three killed.

Held in a prison around 13 miles from the capital Grozny, they are reported to have been subjected to beatings and torture including electric shocks.

The Russian LGBT Network has said it is "working to evacuate people", although a Chechen government spokesman denied the reports, describing them as "lies" and adding that homosexuals "don't exist" in the Muslim-majority region.

John O'Doherty, director of the Rainbow Project, said: "There has been widespread state-sponsored intimidation, discrimination and violence against LGBT within the Russian Federation for many years but this action by the Russian republic of Chechnya represents a depraved new low which must be opposed by governments around the world.

"We also demand that the UK government and Prime Minister Theresa May intervene to ensure that the internees are freed, that they are offered safe passage to asylum in Europe and that the Russian authorities will investigate these abuses of human rights and hold accountable those responsible."

Mr O'Doherty added: "In the past, European nations have looked away while gay men and other marginalised groups were tortured in Nazi concentration camps. We will not allow this to happen again."

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