LA leaders speak up about alleged torture, detention of gay men in Russia

159637 full
159637 full

Los Angeles City Councilman Paul Koretz denounced the alleged torturing and killing of gay men in Russia, saying the news had "struck the world like a bolt of lightning."

Along with several local politicians, he introduced a resolution denouncing human rights violations by the Chechen government and the Russian federation.

The anti-gay abuse was first reported in April by the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, which said about 100 suspected gay men were rounded up and tortured, and at least three were killed.

"I never thought we would hear the term 'concentration camp' again," Koretz added.

Councilmembers Mitch O'Farrell and Mike Bonin and Rep. Adam Schiff joined him at a Friday press conference held outside City Hall.

Lorri L. Jean, CEO of the Los Angeles LGBT Center, also attended. She tells KPCC:

"I'm just appalled that our own leadership in Washington is saying nothing about this. As long as President Trump and Secretary Tillerson stay silent in the face of this horrific violence and murder. As long as they continue to cater to Vladimir Putin in this regard, they will have blood on their hands."

On Thursday, several activists were detained in Moscow as they prepared to submit signatures they had collected protesting the arbitrary detention and torture of gay men in Chechnya.

The reports have been corroborated by human rights organizations such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. 

A spokesman for the Chechen president refuted the claims of abuse, saying there are no gay men in the republic.

The Chechen Republic is located in the southern part of Russia. 

In L.A., the group of local officials hopes its stance will push the White House to comment and do what it can to put a stop to the issue, LGBT Center CEO Lorri L. Jean told KPCC. She first heard of the abuse in Chechnya in April, through reports from the Human Rights Watch.

The Human Rights Watch also hosted a recent Facebook Live chat with its Russia expert Tanya Lokshina, who has investigated the abuses.


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