Sec. Tillerson Admits No Concerns Have Been Raised With Russians Over Chechen Atrocities

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) civil rights organization, blasted disturbing revelations made by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson during a hearing held by the House Foreign Affairs Committee. When asked by Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI) about atrocities committed against gay and bisexual men in Chechnya, Sec. Tillerson admitted that he has not raised the issue at all.

“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 — not even once,” said HRC 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.”

Russian 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-LGBTQ raids.

HRC has called on the U.S. government to condemn these heinous crimes and grant victims refuge in the United States. A group of lawmakers passed a bipartisan resolution, House Resolution 351, condemning the violence and persecution of LGBTQ people in Chechnya. However, President Trump has yet to actually weigh in on the dire situation, despite the international outcry, including by world leaders such as Angela Merkel of Germany, Emmanuel Macron of France, and Justin Trudeau of Canada. To learn more, visit HRC’s #EyesOnChechnya website.

Video of the exchange during the hearing can be found here.

The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

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