Crisis

Secretary of State admits he hasn’t spoken to Russia about Chechnya’s antigay atrocities

On Wednesday, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson admitted to members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee that he hadn’t brought up the treatment of gay and bisexual men in concentration camps in Chechnya when speaking with his Russian counterparts.

As The New Civil Rights Movement reports, the info was revealed during a hearing after Rhode Island Democratic Representative David Cicilline asked a series of questions.

Last month, House Resolution 351 was passed by a group of bipartisan lawmakers condemning the treatment of LGBTQ people in Chechnya and sponsored by Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL). But apparently, neither President Trump nor any senior U.S. officials have focused their attention on the situation. The only exception is United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley.

Related: New short film demonstrates the horrors gay men face in Chechnya

According to Human Rights Watch, gay men in Chechnya are being systematically kidnapped, locked up in secret concentration camps, viciously tortured, and in some instances killed.

While the likes of Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany, President Emmanuel Macron of France, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau of Canada have condemned the killings, Human Rights Campaign’s Government Affairs Director David Stacy took issue with Tillerson’s offhand remarks:

“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.

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.”

This April, Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported that over 100 gay men had been rounded up and detained under suspicion of “untraditional sexual orientation.” Three men have already been killed in the antigay purge, the paper reported.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has allegedly called for an investigation into the claims of gay men’s torture and murder in Chechnya, while Human Rights Watch is conducting its own investigation into the “antigay purge.”

The organization reports that families are being “indirectly encourag[ed]” to kill gay members, in order to restore honor.