An online petition has urged Australia to impose sanctions on two senior government officials known to persecute gay people in Chechnya. The online petition by the Victorian Pride Lobby and addressed to Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister for Women, Marise Payne, has received around 1,500 signatures. 

The petition has asked Australia to impose sanctions on Ayub Kataev, head of the Russian Internal Affairs Ministry in Chechnya, a known persecutor of LGBTQ+ people and Abuzayed Vismuradov, the commander of the Terek Special Rapid Responses Team. This special team has been reported to have been involved in using social media to lure gay men to meetings and then detaining and torturing them, according to the petition. 

On Monday, the European Union blacklisted both Kataev and Vismuradov. Both these Chechen officials have been sanctioned by the United States for human rights abuses in 2017 and 2019 respectively. 

“The repressions are directed against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex persons, those presumed to belong to LGBTI groups,” the EU said while publishing the details of the asset freezes and travel bans on the two officials.

Australia Urged To Step Up

The petition said that Australia had done very little in standing up to the human rights abuses being perpetrated by Chehcnya against people for their sexual orientation or gender identity.

“We’ve heard reports of LGBTQ+ people being arrested and tortured en masse in Chechnya for years now, but to date the Australian Government has done very little about it,” said Nevena Spirovska, co-convenor, VPL. 

“It’s time Australia sends a clear message to Chechnya that the world is watching, and that we won’t accept human rights abuses being perpetrated against LGBTQ+ people. That’s why we’re calling on Minister Payne to follow the lead of other countries and impose sanctions on two of the individuals behind these human rights abuses.” 

“All LGBTQ+ people deserve to live in safety and free from the fear of persecution or violence,” added Spirovska. 

‘No Gay People In Chechnya’

In 2017, Ramzan Kadyrov, leader of the Muslim-majority Chechen region and a close ally of Russian President Vladmir Putin, had said there were no gay men in Chechnya. “We don’t have any gays,” Kadyrov had said when asked about gay men being subjected to torture in the region.

According to Amnesty International, LGBTQI people in Chechnya were “being abducted, locked up in secret detention sites, tortured and sometimes killed – purely because of their sexual orientation.”


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