Senators Markey, Toomey Introduce Bipartisan Resolution Condemning Persecution of Gay Men in Chechnya

Washington, D.C. – Yesterday, U.S. Senators Ed Markey (D-Ma.) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.)  introduced a bipartisan resolution (S.Res.211) condemning Chechen officials’ torture, murder, and call for so-called “honor killings” of men who are, or are suspected of being, gay. The resolution enjoys the support of over one-third of the U.S. Senate, having garnered a total of 41 sponsors and co-sponsors from both sides of the political aisle.

According to news reports, Chechen authorities have abducted, beaten, tortured, and—in at least three cases—killed men because they are believed to be gay. Chechen officials have also encouraged families to conduct “honor killings” of gay or bisexual individuals, stating “If such people existed in Chechnya, law enforcement would not have to worry about them, as their own relatives would have sent them to where they could never return.” Chechnya, which is a region within Russia, continues its anti-gay purge while being defended by Vladimir Putin and Russian officials.

 

The Senate resolution, introduced by U.S. Senators Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Ed Markey (D-Ma.), calls for an immediate end to the persecution and calls on Chechnya and Russia to investigate the violence, punish the perpetrators, and protect the human rights of all citizens.

 “The American people stand united with Chechnya’s LGBTQ community who are suffering cruel and murderous treatment at the hands of Chechen officials who govern under the authority of Russia. The United States will not ignore or forget these inhumane actions, and there will be consequences to denying basic human rights in Chechnya to anyone for who they are or who they love,” said Sen. Markey. “I am proud to cosponsor this very important legislation with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle.”

“It is abhorrent that individuals in Chechnya must fear for their safety and lives due to their actual or perceived sexual orientation. Vladimir Putin and the Russian government must put an end to these horrendous human rights violations and so-called ‘honor killings’ in Chechnya,” said Sen. Toomey.“I am heartened that this resolution has such broad bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress, and I call for its passage in the Senate as soon as possible.”

Tuesday, the House of Representatives passed by voice vote an identically worded resolution (H.Res.351), authored by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL).

 

Read the entire Senate resolution below:

 

Whereas, on April 1, 2017, the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported that authorities in Chechnya, a republic of the Russian Federation, had abducted, detained, and tortured over 100 men due to their actual or suspected sexual orientation;

Whereas multiple independent and first-hand accounts have subsequently corroborated the Novaya Gazeta report, and describe a campaign of persecution by Chechen officials against men due to their actual or suspected sexual orientation;

Whereas, as a result of this persecution, at least three deaths have been reported and many individuals have been forced to flee Chechnya;

Whereas Chechen officials have denied the existence of such persecution, including through a statement by the spokesman for Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov that “You cannot arrest or repress people who don’t exist in the republic.”;

Whereas the same spokesman for Ramzan Kadyrov has also stated that “If such people existed in Chechnya, law enforcement would not have to worry about them, as their own relatives would have sent them to where they could never return,” and credible reports indicate that Chechen authorities have encouraged families to carry out so-called “honor killings” of relatives due to their actual or suspected sexual orientation;

Whereas Chechnya is a constituent republic of the Russian Federation and subject to its laws, and Ramzan Kadyrov was installed as the leader of Chechnya by Russian President Vladimir Putin;

Whereas Chechen authorities have a long history of violating the fundamental human rights of their citizens, including through extrajudicial executions, forced disappearances, and torture of government critics;

Whereas Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed reports of persecution in Chechnya and termed them “phantom complaints”;

Whereas Russia’s Human Rights Ombudsman, Tatyana Moskalkova, has also claimed that such reports should not be believed because formal complaints have not been registered with the appropriate authorities;

Whereas the Russian Federation is a participating State of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe and a signatory to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and thus has agreed to guarantee the fundamental human rights of all of its citizens;

Whereas, on April 7, 2017, the United States Department of State issued a statement saying “We categorically condemn the persecution of individuals based on their sexual orientation” and urging the Government of the Russian Federation to take steps to ensure the release of all those wrongfully detained in Chechnya, and to conduct a credible investigation of the reports; and

Whereas, on April 17, 2017, United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley issued a statement saying “Chechen authorities must immediately investigate these allegations, hold anyone involved accountable, and take steps to prevent future abuses. We are against all forms of discrimination, including against people based on sexual orientation. When left unchecked, discrimination and human rights abuses can lead to destabilization and conflict.”: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Senate—

(1) condemns the violence and persecution in Chechnya and calls on Chechen officials to immediately cease the abduction, detention, and torture of individuals on the basis of their actual or suspected sexual orientation, and hold accountable all those involved in perpetrating such abuses;

(2) calls on the Government of the Russian Federation to protect the human rights of all its citizens, condemn the violence and persecution, investigate these crimes in Chechnya, and hold accountable all those involved in perpetrating such abuses;

(3) calls on the United States Government to continue to condemn the violence and persecution in Chechnya, demand the release of individuals wrongfully detained, and identify those individuals whose involvement in this violence qualifies for the imposition of sanctions under the Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012 (Public Law 112–208; 22 U.S.C. 5811 note) or the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act (Public Law 114–328); and

(4) affirms that the rights to freedom of assembly, association, and expression and freedom from extrajudicial detention and violence are universal human rights that apply to all persons, and that countries that fail to respect these rights jeopardize the security and prosperity of all their citizens.