Amnesty International welcomes Canada’s protection of LGBTI refugees from Chechnya

Amnesty International welcomes the initiative of the Canadian government, and non-governmental partners Rainbow Railroad and Russian LGBT Network, which has brought dozens of gay men from the semi-autonomous Russian republic of Chechnya to Canada as government-assisted refugees. This unique government and civil society partnership comes in response to a coordinated campaign against men in Chechnya who are believed to be gay.
In early April, the Russian independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported that over a hundred of men believed to be gay had been recently abducted, sent to undisclosed detention centres, tortured and otherwise ill-treated, and forced to disclose other LGBTI individuals known to them. Chechen officials have also supported “honour killings“ of gay men by their families. Amnesty International documented the practice of extrajudicial executions of gay men in Chechnya and elsewhere in the region earlier this year.
Some of the men were released from detention, and along with men who feared they too might be detained, they fled to cities in central Russia and were placed in safe houses by the Russian LGBT Network. Others remain in detention centres.
Canada has shown strong leadership in working with Rainbow Railroad and the Russian LGBT Network by supporting the human rights of LGBTI people from Chechnya.  This type of partnership and the willingness to provide emergency visas to refugees, is one example of how countries around the world can respond to refugees in urgent need of resettlement. Amnesty International applauds Canada for its willingness to work with non-governmental partners in supporting LGBTI rights and providing a pathway to protection for refugees in need.