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COLUMN: Chechnya’s shame, others guilty of crimes against gay community


Gay men in the Republic of Chechnya are being rounded up by authorities, sponsored by the government of Ramzan Kadirof.

One hundred men were taken into custody, beaten, tortured and to date four were killed.

Kadirof ordered the crackdown to “eliminate” the republic’s gay community by the start of Ramidan on May 26. The United Kingdom’s foreign minister, Sir Alan Duncan said, “Human rights groups report that these anti-gay campaigns are orchestrated by the head of the Chechnya republic, namely Kadirof.”

It is reported more than 100 men have been detained in prisons in recent weeks, also that discrimination is rampant and supported by authorities and even “honour killings” by gay men’s relatives is not uncommon. Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, who has his own anti-gay agenda, does not interfere in this outrageous practice against gay men even as Chechnya is an administrative unit of the Russian federation.

Crimes against humanity must be filed against Kadirof and other authorities. This is genocide and must not go unpunished. Last year in Bangladesh, two gay activists were brutally slaughtered and a top government official said that the deceased had been working to promote values “that do not fit in our society.”

Many governments remain absolutely adamant that LGBTQ folks have no rights and therefore are expendable. In Gambia, the government targets journalists, human rights activists, student leaders, religious leaders and political opposition members; the former President Yahya Jammeh, charged that “homosexuality is anti-God, anti-human and anti-civilization.” These ideas are still in practice. However, newly elected president Adama Barrow has indicated he is more accepting of the LGBTQ community in his country.

In Indonesia, despite the fact gay rights are legal the province of Aceh is ruled by the ultra-conservative Sharia law. On May 17, which is also the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia, the court sentenced two gay men, 20 and 23, to a public caning. Dede Oetomo, founder of Gaya Nusantara, an organization advocating LGBTQ rights in Indonesia, said, “I see this as criminalization, a step back for Indonesia and human rights.”

As we sit in our comfortable chairs, enjoying the equality we have as LGBTQ citizens in Canada, we would do well to remember that many countries are in shambles when it concerns equal rights. It is a travesty that these attacks on LGBTQ people continue in 2017 and this is only a sampling of atrocities committed daily.

Should we be concerned in this part of the world? Do we have a responsibility to be actively involved in attempting to be of assistance – or merely look through rose-coloured glasses and ignore the pleas? Even as LGBTQ Canadians have equal rights in place, equal treatment remains a concern.

There is no guarantee that we are safe from inhuman treatment. Therefore readers, we should open our eyes and work toward equality in all its forms, in all corners of the globe and with all people. Equal rights are human rights. If we appreciate what we have, we must also wish that for others, here and universally. Let’s get to work.

Comments and information: lgbtconnectionsgv@gmail.com

 

Gerard Veldhoven is a longtime activist for the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. His column appears Wednesdays in The News.

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