Love is not a crime: the Russian Embassy in Paris staged a kissing protest

On Friday, may 17, the international day against homophobia and transphobia, at the Russian Embassy in Paris, the activists staged a protest kisses (kiss-in) in support of LGBT people in Chechnya. The event took place at the initiative of Amnesty International.

In the kissing protest was attended by about 20 activists, including staff of Amnesty. The organization tried again to pass the petition to the Embassy with a demand to the Russian authorities to begin an effective investigation into evidence of illegal detentions, torture and killings of homosexuals in Chechnya. However, the Embassy refused to accept the document. Activists don’t exclude that I’ll send him mail.

This time the activists came not a single representative of the Embassy. In June 2017, when Amnesty was submitted the same petition to the Russian Embassy, activists came the first Secretary of the guardian Vadim Zenkin and took their boxes with signatures.

The petition, published five months ago (according to human rights activists, then in Chechnya began a new wave of arrests and murders of LGBT people), signed more than 275 thousand people worldwide (23 thousand signatures in France). Earlier in the Russian Embassy refused Amnesty in the reception, told RFI the representatives of the organization. They also refused to hold a rally directly in front of the Embassy. A kissing protest was held across the street.

According to Sebastien Tulle dealing with LGBT issues at Amnesty International, international pressure is the only way to change the situation in the region, “reach” in the first place. He notes that against the background of international pressure has failed to stop the third wave of detentions and torture in may 2017.

Sebastien Tulle also notes that it is very important to put pressure on the French authorities to the issue of LGBT rights will certainly be raised at the talks with the Russian side.

In mid-January 2019 “Russian LGBT network” announced a new (fourth) wave of persecution of gays and lesbians in Chechnya, which began in late 2018. Then it was reported that in the region detained about forty people on suspicion of homosexuality, at least two died due to torture. The detainees are illegally kept in secret “prison” in Argun near Grozny, said the head of “Russian LGBT network” Igor Kochetkov.

However, human rights activists stress that the real extent of persecution cannot be evaluated: information from Chechnya comes with great delay, it is collected literally bit by bit and check from different sources. From April 2017, “Russian LGBT network” was evacuated from the region about 150 people, more than 130 left Russia, it was reported on the website of the organization.

Chechen authorities have repeatedly denied the persecution of LGBT people in the region. The head of Chechnya Ramzan Kadyrov called homosexuals “devils” and “nonhumans” and claimed that in Chechnya do not LGBT.

The Federal government still has not conducted an effective investigation into the many allegations of harassment and extrajudicial killings in Chechnya.

In November 2018, the OSCE initiated against Russia “Moscow mechanism” to investigate human rights violations in the Chechen Republic. This is one of the methods of work of the OSCE monitoring of the observance by member countries of the organization of obligations in the field of human rights and democracy (“the human dimension”). The tool involves the creation of an independent Commission of experts and speakers. The last time it was used against Belarus in 2011. The Russian authorities are not cooperating with the OSCE and was refused entry to the expert organization.

However, in December 2018, the OSCE published a report, which confirmed the facts of illegal detentions, kidnappings, torture and extrajudicial killings in Chechnya faced by LGBT people, human rights activists, independent journalists, civil society activists. The organization emphasizes that the Federal authorities do not investigate crimes in the Republic, considering Chechnya as a “special case”, “where a special regime of impunity is allowed for the sake of stability”.

The OSCE recommended that the Russian authorities to establish a special Committee “effective, impartial and transparent” investigation into the alleged crimes. Otherwise, “should be an independent investigation involving international experts.”
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