chechnya-march

On Saturday, a protest march was held in New York City in solidarity with the LGBT people of Chechnya.

It was organised by the grassroots group Voices 4 Chechnya, standing up in peaceful protest against the abduction, torture and killing of Chechen LGBT+ people and demanding humanitarian visas for those that have escaped to Russian safe houses.

The group was founded by LGBT+ activist Adam Eli who fronted the protest, marching alongside hundreds of Voices 4 Chechnya supporters, including RuPaul’s Drag Race stars Milk and Katya.

The march began at The Stonewall Inn, ending outside Trump Tower at the United Nations Plaza.

It is significant that the protest began at Stonewall, the birthplace of the modern gay rights movement, and ended on the doorstep of the President’s tower.

The US State Department has considered the issues in Chechnya as “troubling” but Donald Trump is yet to make any form of address. Maybe taking the protest to his doorstep will prompt some acknowledgement.

Ramzan Kadyrov, the Chechen leader, has repeatedly denied the murder and torture of gay men in Chechnya, on the grounds that there are no gay people in Chechnya.

The Chechen Republic is an extremely conservative landscape, where homophobia is widespread and homosexuality is taboo, seen as a stain on the family.

Despite denying the persecution taking place, it continues to go on, unopposed. This is why a protest like this is so important.

A Canadian charity Rainbow Railroad reports they have helped 30 men successfully escape Chechnya supplying them with emergency travel and Visa to come to Canada. The charity has also been in touch with 140 more people in Chechnya desperately seeking asylum.

Germany, Lithuania and the Netherlands have also granted asylum to Chechen people on humanitarian grounds.

We are so lucky to live in this time and place where we largely have the freedom to express our sexuality as we please. We can’t forget about people around the world like our family in Chechnya that don’t have the same liberties that we do.

We need more than a statement from Trump, we need action.