Calls for Prime Minister to do more about persecution in Chechnya

Malcolm Turnbull has been urged to do more to stop the persecution of LGBTI people in Chechnya.

Long-time LGBTI human rights advocate, Rodney Croome, has written to the Prime Minister on behalf of advocacy group, just.equal, asking him to introduce a parliamentary motion condemning “the cruelty of the Chechen Government and the indifference of the Kremlin”.

Croome also called on the Turnbull Government to work with like-minded governments at the UN to censure Russia and launch an international investigation.

After citing the positive impact of a recent apology by Tasmanian Liberal Premier, Will Hodgman, for past laws criminalising gay and transgender people, Mr Croome wrote,

“By your timely action, let those who suffer in Chechnya be the beneficiaries of our nation’s aspiration for a world without homophobic persecution.”

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has previously responded to news that gay men were being persecuted in the region by saying the media report were concerning.

Bishop said the government had sought assurances from the Russian government that no Australians were involved.

There have previously been calls for the Foreign Minister to deliver a stronger response, including from within her own party. Government MP Tim Wilson said the government should be strongly condemning the action in Chechnya.

“The reports of homosexual men being targeted, detained and tortured in Chechnya are deeply, deeply disturbing,” Wilson told the Sydney Morning Herald. “We should resolutely condemn any action taken against people simply because of their sexual orientation.”

By comparison the responses from other nation’s have been significantly more damning than Australia’s response.

Britain’s Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson labeled the situation “outrageous”, while  Baroness Anelay, one of Britian’s Ministers of State representing the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, labeled the treatment of LGBT people in Chechnya as “unacceptable” and “abhorrent”.

This week German Chancellor Angela Merkel confronted President Putin over the reports, while appearing together at a press conference in Sochi.

Chancellor Merkel asked The Kremlin to thoroughly investigate the claims and ensure the safety of LGBT people in Chechnya.

The German leader also pressed President Putin on the arrest of the protesters in St Petersburg.

“It’s important to have the right to demonstrate in a democracy, and the role of NGOs is very important,” Chancellor Merkel said.

“I asked Mr Putin to use his influence to protect these minority rights.”


Read the full letter below.


Hon Malcolm Turnbull MHR

Prime Minister of Australia

Re: Australian Government action to stop LGBTI persecution in Chechnya


Dear Mr Turnbull,

As you will know, officials in the Russian republic of Chechnya are rounding up, incarcerating and reportedly murdering men because they are gay.

I congratulate your foreign minister, Julie Bishop, for expressing concern about this to the Russian Government.

But Australia has an obligation to do more.

It is vital that heads of government make direct representations.

The German Chancellor, Angela Merkel, has lead the way by expressing her concern directly to Vladimir Putin.

I urge you to introduce a motion to Parliament condemning the cruelty of the Chechen Government and the indifference of the Kremlin.

I also urge your Government to work with other like-minded governments to formally censure Russia at the United Nations and to launch a UN investigation into the extent of the abuses on Chechnya.

Your support for the victims of anti-LGBTI persecution in Chechnya, as well as the support of the Australian Parliament, will send a strong message.

Two weeks ago Tasmanian Liberal Premier, Will Hodgman, apologised for Tasmania’s former laws against LGBTI people.

He also moved a motion, last year, condemning the massacre of LGBTI people in Orlando.

Having witnessed these events first hand, I can vouch for the positive moral and cultural impact of a head of government repudiating persecution and discrimination against LGBTI people.

One of the most important roles of a Prime Minister is to gather up the aspirations of millions of everyday Australians for fairness, equality and respect for human dignity, and deploy those aspirations to good effect.

By your timely action, let those who suffer in Chechnya be the beneficiaries of our nation’s aspiration for a world without homophobic persecution.

Best wishes,

Rodney Croome

May 6th, 2017

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