Toronto – In the shocking wake of Chechnya’s coordinated efforts to purge its society of gay men, the Canadian government has been secretly been granting refugees asylum in the Dominion, according to LGBT advocacy organization Rainbow Railroad.
Kimali Powell, Rainbow Railroad’s executive director, says his group has been working with Canadian officials to place 22 gay men from Chechnya in “safe houses”, as the Chechen authorities continue to round up, torture, and kill LGBT people as a matter of public policy. “The vast majority of people we’ve helped are men,” Powell notes, “because it’s harder for women to escape Chechnya.”
Ramzan Kadyrov, president of the Chechen Republic, supported the purge from the beginning. “We don’t have those kinds of people here. We don’t have any gays,” he said, “if these men have families, they would send them to a place from which there is no return“. The United Nations High Council On Human rights (UNCHR) says it cannot accurately gauge how many gay men had been killed, but emphasized that “murders were ongoing” in the former Soviet state.
In Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau decried the “reprehensible reports of violations of the human rights of gay and bisexual men in Chechnya,” and directed his country’s immigration authorities to grant asylum to the refugees.
“We hope that in demonstrating Canada can do something, other countries can take the lead as well,” Powell stated. In the United States, the Trump Administration has been hostile to admitting asylum seekers, and is enforcing a complete travel ban on those seeking entry from countries like Syria or Iran.
“The doors to the United States are closed to gay men fleeing ISIS in Syria,” said Michael Gerstein of Immigration Watch, suggesting that Chechen refugees would be hard-pressed to gain asylum in the US. The White House has also enacted several anti-LGBT measures in recent months, most recently the summary ejection of all transgender troops from the Armed Forces. “Transgender in the military is a burden on military readiness,” President Trump declared, in announcing the new policy.
The Canadian government confirmed that more Chechen refugees were expected to arrive in the coming months. “We welcome them,” Trudeau said, “and we call for the protection of all people in Chechnya whose sexual orientation makes them a target for persecution.”