Leeds students have planned an event in Leeds city centre, due to take place next Sunday 22nd April, in response to allegations of abuse from newspapers and human rights groups in the Chechnyan region.
Independent Russia newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported last week that nearly a hundred gay men aged between 16 and 50 had disappeared. In addition to the government roundup, local militias have reportedly been assaulting gay men in the area, with four reported deaths.
In response, the spokesman for Chechnya’s government leader Ramzan Kadyrov said that the report was based on “lies and disinformation” claiming that the actions couldn’t have taken place in the state because gay people ‘did not exist’. “You cannot detain and persecute people who simply do not exist in the republic.” he said.
Antony Riley, who is organising the event and is the new co-chair of the Leeds Labour Society, told The Gryphon that:
“With the current detaining, beating and murdering of the LGBTQ+ community in Chechnya, I felt an overwhelming urge to act and to bring this issue to the wider LGBTQ+ community and our allies who far too often take our western privilege for granted. Our fight didn’t end with the introduction of same sex marriage in the UK and we need to campaign for our rights and the rights of our counterparts internationally.”
“Leeds is well known for its vibrant LGBTQ+ history and community. We stood hand in hand in solidarity for the victims of Orlando and it is essential that we stand in solidarity with our community worldwide and remember how lucky we are to be able to survive, thrive and be accepted in Leeds.”
Tatyana Lokshina of the Human Rights Watch in Moscow said this is the first time the LGBTQ community has been targeted in such a large wave in the area. This follows mass protests during the 2014 Sotchi Winter Olympic games against anti gay laws invoked by Russian leader Vladimir Putin.
The Leeds rally will be taking place next Sunday in Victoria Gardens. More information can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/events/1000731283390867/
Image: V Magazine