In April, the international community started hearing more reports of violence and hatred being shown by the Goverment of Chechnya to their LGBTQ+ people. The Government denied this by parroting the ridiculous statement that they couldn’t be persecuting the LGBTQ+ people in the country because according to them they just didn’t exist. The Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has repeated several time that there are any gay or bisexual people in the country, they just don’t exist.
The obvious danger to LGBTQ+ people caused Canadian human rights organisation Rainbow Road to get involved. Thirty-one gay and bisexual Chechen men and women have been granted asylum in Canada following a violent crackdown on LGBTQ+ people. They have been brought to Canada as part of an under-the-radar collaboration between Rainbow Road and the federal government.
Rainbow Road tell the story on their site:
“In response to the confirmed reports of abductions, detentions, enforced disappearances, torture and deaths targeting over 200 gay and bisexual men in Chechnya, Rainbow Railroad immediately went to action to assist those in danger. Rainbow Railroad has been working closely with the Russian LGBT Network, a non-governmental organization currently leading the campaign to rescue those facing danger in Chechnya.
As of July 2017, 37 individuals have escaped into safe houses in Russia, and would like to leave the country. Rainbow Railroad is providing direct travel assistance and has already negotiated safe travel for 35 individuals with a commitment to supporting everyone of them.
This includes asking the Canadian government to provide direct assistance to LGBTQ people who need our help in Chechnya and other countries by way of emergency visas. We are currently in active communication with the government. Rainbow Railroad is the only organization in the world providing this direct assistance, as it has the unique capacity to respond to this and other similar crises that may occur.”
For those who don’t know much about the Rainbow Road, this is how they describe themselves:
“In countries all over the world, lesbian, gay, bisexual and trans-identified (LGBTI) people live in basic fear for their freedom, their safety and their lives. They often have nowhere to turn because their government and police not only tolerate but encourage this brutality. Rainbow Railroad exists to help these people get out of danger to somewhere safe. In the spirit of and with homage to the Underground Railroad, the mission of the Rainbow Railroad is to help LGBT people as they seek safe haven from state enabled violence, murder or persecution. Through funds collected by people like you, we’re able to support, provide information, and help to arrange safe transportation for these LGBT people to somewhere in the world where they can live their lives in safety.”
It’s great to see both the Canadian Government and Rainbow Road doing something for those who have been ignored somewhat by much of the international community despite us knowing about their persecution.