Dozens protest alleged 'systemic detention' and murder of gay, bisexual men in Chechnya
Reports of up to 100 men detained in secret prisons prompts outrage, condemnation
Dozens protested the alleged detention and murder of gay and bisexual men in Chechnya in Toronto's Church-Wellesley village on Saturday.
Allegations of several killings and up to 100 men being detained in secret prisons in the Russian republic have prompted condemnation from human rights groups and the Canadian government, with Minister of Foreign Affairs Chrystia Freeland calling the reports of violence and discrimination "reprehensible" last week.
- Russia urged to investigate 'horrific' reports of gay men being killed in Chechnya
- Canada calls purported killings of gay men in Chechnya 'reprehensible,' calls for Russia probe
At Saturday's protest beside the 519 community centre on Church Street, attendees called on the federal government to take action.
"Trudeau: Actions not words," read one sign carried by a protestor.
"We need to honour the Canadian values of inclusively and acceptance and being welcoming to people — and make it easier for people who've experienced persecution to claim refuge in safer countries like Canada," said Martha Singh Jennings, who works for Rainbow Railroad, a Toronto-based charity helping LGBT people escape danger through a global network of safe routes.
Let's give them something to talk about <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Chechen100?src=hash">#Chechen100</a> <a href="https://t.co/a528e5Lyhv">https://t.co/a528e5Lyhv</a> <a href="https://t.co/W61JJJZo9b">pic.twitter.com/W61JJJZo9b</a>—@scheenaardigans
Singh Jennings said the protest was meant to show solidarity and highlight the "systemic detention, torture and also murder of gay and bisexual men."
After starting in the village, the protestors moved to the former site of the Russian Embassy at the corner of Bloor and Church Streets — a request from the Russian LGBT Network, a non-governmental organization which aims to protect the rights of LGBT people in Russia.
<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Chechen100?src=hash">#Chechen100</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/LoveIsLove?src=hash">#LoveIsLove</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/JustinTrudeau">@JustinTrudeau</a> please help. You have supported LGBTQ people here in Canada.<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SpeakUpNow?src=hash">#SpeakUpNow</a> <a href="https://t.co/oqSui0AAHV">pic.twitter.com/oqSui0AAHV</a>—@SturdyHugh
In a statement released on April 15, Freeland said the federal government is committed to combatting discrimination and violence impacting the community around the world.
"Human rights have no borders. Canada believes human rights are universal and indivisible, and these include the human rights of LGBTQ2 people," Freeland's statement read.
"We call on the Russian authorities to thoroughly investigate these reports and to immediately ensure the safety of all persons in Chechnya who may be at risk due to their sexual orientation."
As CBC previously reported, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin has said the Kremlin does not have confirmed information on violence targeting the gay community.