NYC activists protest gay Chechnya arrests

By : MICHAEL K. LAVERS of the Washington Blade, courtesy of the National Gay Media Association
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Roughly 60 LGBT rights activists gathered outside the Russian consulate in New York on Saturday to protest the arrest of more than 100 gay men in Chechnya.

RUSA LGBT, a group of LGBT Russian speakers and their supporters, organized the protest that included a memorial. Members of ACT UP New York, Human Rights First, Rise and Resist, the Caribbean Equality Project and Congregation Beit Simchat Torah also took part.

“We are here to support our compatriots, our Russian-speaking LGBT community in Chechnya,” said Lyosha Gorshkov of RUSA LGBT in a press release. “Also we are here to demand human rights for everybody.”

Milk from “RuPaul’s Drag Race” also participated in the protest.

“We can’t just care about what’s happening in our own country, in our own LGBT community,” said Milk in a video that ACT UP New York uploaded to YouTube. “We have to care about the world so this type of brutality doesn’t happen to everybody.”

Novaya Gazeta, an independent Russian newspaper, earlier this month reported Chechen authorities have arrested more than 100 gay men in the semi-autonomous Russian republic in the North Caucuses. The Washington Blade has confirmed additional reports that indicate these men have been sent to secret prisons.

Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov and the Kremlin have repeatedly sought to dismiss the arrests and Novaya Gazeta’s reporting on them.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley and the State Department have both urged the Russian government to investigate the arrests. President Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have not spoken publicly about them or the secret prisons.

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