Just days after the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.Res.351, condemning the horrific persecution of gay and bisexual men in Chechnya, a bipartisan group has introduced an identical resolution (S.Res.211) in the Senate.
Since early this year, Chechen authorities have rounded up and detained over 100 men in secret prisons, under suspicion that they are gay or bisexual. Chechen leaders have denied these accusations, going so far as to deny the very existence of LGBTQ people in Chechnya. Nonetheless, there have been numerous verified reports of torture and at least three men have been killed, and possibly as many as 20. Chechen officials have also reportedly encouraged families to murder relatives they suspect might be gay, something that at least one family may have done.
The resolution “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.” It also calls on the U.S. to condemn the atrocities and consider sanctions against the perpetrators.
“Congressional leaders on both sides of the aisle and in both houses of Congress have rightly joined the many world leaders who have condemned the human rights violations taking place in Chechnya,” said JoDee Winterhof, HRC Senior Vice President for Policy and Political Affairs. “It is now time for the Trump Administration to follow Congress’s lead. They must send the same message to Russia, which has control over Chechnya – that this behavior is unacceptable, that there must be a credible investigation and that the perpetrators must be brought to justice.”
HRC has repeatedly called on the Trump Administration to condemn these heinous crimes and grant victims asylum — and U.S. lawmakers are now putting pressure on Russian president Vladimir Putin to investigate.
“It is abhorrent that individuals in Chechnya must fear for their safety and lives due to their actual or perceived sexual orientation,” said Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA), who officially introduced the resolution yesterday. Vladimir Putin and the Russian government must put an end to these horrendous human rights violations and so-called ‘honor killings’ in Chechnya. 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.”
“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,” said Sen. Ed Markey (D-MA), a lead cosponsor and a longtime champion of LGBTQ human rights around the world. “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. I am proud to cosponsor this very important legislation with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle.”
The resolution has 40 original cosponsors, including 12 Republicans, 27 Democrats and one independent.
HRC thanks Senators Toomey, Markey and the other cosponsors for introducing the resolution and urges Senate leaders to bring the resolution to the floor quickly for a full Senate vote, as their House colleagues did earlier this week.