Tillerson Admits to Congress No Communication on Human Rights Crisis of Gay Men to Russia
During a hearing held by the House Foreign Affairs Committee Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told Members that he has not raised the issue of the atrocities committed against gay and bisexual men in Chechnya with his Russian counterparts. This revelation came after a series of questions by Rhode Island Democratic Representative David Cicilline (video above).
A bipartisan group of lawmakers passed House Resolution 351, sponsored by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) last month, which condemned the violence and persecution of LGBTQI people in Chechnya. However, neither the president nor senior U.S. officials including Secretary Tillerson have yet to actually weigh in on the situation, with the sole exception of United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley.
Human Rights Watch has verified gay men in Chechnya abducted, held in secret locations, tortured, and killed.
International outcry has included statements condemning the detentions and killings by world leaders such as Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, President Emmanuel Macron of France, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada.
A spokesperson for the Washington-based Human Rights Campaign took issue with Tillerson's remarks to the committee.
"People have been tortured and killed in Chechnya, yet Secretary Tillerson admitted today he hasn't raised concern about the atrocities against gay and bisexual men with his Russian counterparts â€” not even once," said HRC's Government Affairs Director David Stacy. "When directly asked during the hearing to clearly condemn the attacks, Sec. Tillerson declined to do so. And he had no idea if the President has raised the issue. The Trump/Pence administration's lack of leadership on this issue and human rights around the globe is beyond disturbing. The time for action is now."
The leading Russian opposition newspaper, Novaya Gazeta, first broke the news of detentions and beatings of gay and bisexual by Chechnya authorities. According to various reports, roughly 100 gay and bisexual men had been beaten and tortured in detention-style camps where at least three men were reportedly killed in the anti-LGBTQI raids.
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