In Today's Good News, France Welcomes Its First Gay Chechen Refugee

On the same day President Macron challenges Putin on human rights

MOST POPULAR

Two months ago, ELLE reported that a torture camp was holding gay men in Chechnya.

Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta first raised the issue of LGBT persecution, suggesting dozens of men were being rounded up, abducted and tortured by the police because of their sexuality.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

Currently homosexuality is strictly taboo in Chechnya – the population is mainly Muslim and under sharia law it is punishable. To date, three men have died as a result, and there have been reports of a fourth.

Now, however, France have welcome their first refugee from Chechnya. Joel Deumier, president of French gay rights' group SOS Homophobie, confirmed the arrival on news channel France Info on Monday.

'The first gay Chechen refugee arrived on French land,' he said. 'France has started to welcome Chechen refugees. This is going to continue.'

This suitably happened on the same day French President Emmanuel Macron called on the Russian president to investigate the alleged crackdown on gay men in the region.

The two leaders met for the first time in Versailles yesterday.

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

During a press conference, Macron said he emphasised to Putin 'how important it is for France to respect all people, all minorities.'

'We spoke about the cases of LGBT people in Chechnya... I told President Putin what France is expecting regarding this issue, and we agreed to regularly check on this subject,' Macron said.

He added that Putin had told him he had taken measures to 'establish the complete truth on the activities of local authorities' in Chechnya, but didn't specify what those measures were.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Russia's response hasn't been particularly forthcoming. Back in April, the government of Chechnya denied the reports by claiming there are no homosexuals within their borders because, if there were, they would have been exiled by their families.

And now? Well, foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Tuesday insisted there were 'no facts' in reports about the persecution of gay men in the region.

He also added: 'We don't see one concrete fact either about hackers or about some secret probes into election meddling in almost every Western country.'

ADVERTISEMENT - CONTINUE READING BELOW

'If there are facts, if there are surnames then our answers will be concrete... But I repeat that we have no relation to the majority of the allegations.'

Protesters gathered outside the Putin/Macron meeting to challenge the Russian leader and the deadly homophobia playing out in the country.

News recently emerged that a group of around 40 Chechens are hiding in other parts of Russia, unable to find a safe country to take them in.

More from ELLE UK: