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State-sponsored violence in Chechnya has reportedly seen as many as 100 gay and bisexual Chechen men rounded up by police and taken to a detention centers where many are tortured. 20 men are believed to be dead as a result of the anti-LGBTQ police sweeps, though only three deaths have been verified by human rights groups.
A White House spokesperson was questioned by Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade on why there was no mention of Chechnya in a statement about the President’s meeting with Russian foreign minister Sergey Lavrov.
“Ah, look, I mean a lot of times there are parts of the conversation that aren’t specifically included in a readout… but I’m not aware, I have not had that conversation,” Sarah Huckabee Sanders replied. “So I do not know, I was not part of that meeting. I cannot speak to every detail and I would have to refer you to the readout on the specifics of what I know was discussed.”
When asked if Trump had been briefed at all on Chechnya, she mumbled, “That is something I would have to get back to you on. I am not 100% sure.”
While Huckabee Sanders seems confused herself, it’s horrifying to think that there is a possibility that Donald Trump has no idea what’s happening in Chechnya.
How are other world leaders responding?
German Chancellor Angela Merkel was the first person to speak out about the atrocities happening in Chechnya.
During a press conference last week with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Merkel called on Putin to “use his influence to guarantee the rights of minorities” after hearing “negative reports on the treatment of homosexuals, particularly in Chechnya.”
Her comments make her the first world leader to speak out amid the ongoing reports of widespread kidnapping, detainment and torture meant to eliminate all suspected gay and bi men from the southwestern Russian republic by Ramadan (May 26).
The United Kingdom’s Prime Minister Theresa May has also spoken out, calling the acts “utterly barbaric.”
May wrote in a statement: “Urgent action is also being taken to explore how best to provide support to the LGBT+ community in the region.”
“You are right to raise concerns about the unacceptable statement issued by the regional government in Chechnya. The UK Government has made clear that this response, implying that such treatment towards LGBT+ people is tolerable, is particularly abhorrent.”
But May’s concerns about Russia and the LGBT community do not end with Chechnya.
May continues: “More widely, the issue of LGBT+ rights is one that the UK raises regularly with the Russian authorities. I can reassure you that we have raised concerns, particularly about the Russian law prohibiting the promotion of ‘non-traditional’ sexual relations to minors since it came into place in June 2013.”
Let’s hope Trump learns a lesson from his peers and speaks out against these heinous acts happening against our LGBT brothers and sisters.