In response to growing reports about Chechnya's gay concentration camp, 50 members of Congress have signed a letter encouraging Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to speak publicly about the issue, and pressure the Russian government to investigate and stop the violence. The "bi-partisan" letter was endorsed by 47 Democrats and three Republicans: Carlos Curbelo, Charles Dent and Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, PinkNews reports.
Russian opposition newspaper Novaya Gazeta first shared the news earlier this month that more than 100 gay and bisexual men have been detained in Chechnya "in connection with their non-traditional sexual orientation." A spokesperson for Chechnya's Russian-backed leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, denied any mass targeting, claiming no gay people exist in Chechnya at all. "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," he said.
A number of the United Nation's senior experts on human rights also called for an end to the purge today, saying, "We urge the authorities to put an end to the persecution of people perceived to be gay or bisexual in the Chechen Republic who are living in a climate of fear fuelled by homophobic speeches by local authorities." They added that it's important all "reports of abductions, unlawful detentions, torture, beatings and killings of men perceived to be gay or bisexual are investigated thoroughly."
GLAAD joined the resistance this week, demanding that Nikki Haley, United States Ambassador to the United Nations, condemn the attacks in Chechnya. "U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley must condemn this humanitarian crisis," said Sarah Kate Ellis, President and CEO of GLAAD. "As the leader of the free world, we can’t watch in silence as the world slips back to an era we should never go back to.”