AMNESTY International has gathered more than half a million signatures on petitions calling for an end to the alleged persecution of gay and bi men in Chechnya.

As part of a global day of action tomorrow, Amnesty International activists will hand in petitions to Russian embassies around the world.

As a preview to the main event, Amnesty International Australia attempted to present the petition to the Russian Consulate in Sydney earlier today, with a photo of the five Russian activists arrested for delivering a similar petition. The consulate refused to meet with them.

There will also be events in major cities around the world in the next week to protest the campaign of abductions, torture and death by the Chechen authorities.

“The clock is ticking for gay men in Chechnya, who are living under the shadow of this terrifying purge,” said John Dalhuisen, Amnesty International’s Director for Europe and Central Asia.

“We are urging the international community to open their doors to all those fleeing homophobic persecution in Chechnya.

“The Chechen authorities claim that gay men do not exist. This week people from around the world will come together in defiance to show gay men in Chechnya that we recognise them and demand their protection.”

Russian authorities have opened a preliminary investigation into the reports of persecution. Amnesty International is calling on them to proceed to a full-blown criminal investigation, and to take all necessary steps to ensure the safety of individuals who may be at risk in Chechnya.

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