On 24th July, Russian LGBT Network submitted its alternate report to the UN Committee Against Torture. The report is devoted to detailing the mass persecution of LGBT people in the Chechen Republic, information about which surfaced in the spring of last year. Despite the fact that this campaign, organised by the authorities, affected hundreds of people, the Russian Federation still denies not only the persecution, but also the very existence of LGBT people in Chechnya.
At the last meeting, a similar report was prepared by the LGBT initiative group Coming Out, and included information on the hate crimes against LGBT people in Russia (this information included the data of the monitoring program organised by the Russian LGBT Network).
The following day, 25th July, the Russian Federation submitted its official report on the observance of the provisions of the Convention against Torture and other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (a statement by representatives of Russia). After that, there was a dialog between members of the Committee, and representatives from Russia, during which the latter were questioned on the topic of the persecution of LGBT people within the country.
The UN Committee against Torture has voiced concern that, in Russia, LGBT people face discrimination and are victims of persecution because of the so-called "propaganda law". As an example of persecution, the committee cited the case of Evdokiya Romanova, which the Samara court found guilty of reposting publications "prapagating non-traditional sexual relations."
In addition, a member of the committee, Mr. Heller, addressed the Russian delegation with questions on reports about the persecution of people “identifying themselves as homosexuals” in Chechnya. It was mentioned that the Russian LGBT Network evacuated many victims of persecution from the region, although their relatives continued to be harassed by the authorities. The Committee considers it alarming that the federal authorities have shown to be unwilling to take measures to investigate these crimes and, furthermore, consider the complaints unreasonable.
Further, the Committee addressed Russia with issues related to the investigation of extrajudicial executions, forced disappearances, and torture occuring in the North Caucasus. Special attention was paid to the case of 27 residents of Chechnya who were subjected to extrajudicial violence in the region in January last year. In the context of these issues, the case of Maxim Lapunov, the only victim of the campaign against LGBT people in Chechnya who has spoken openly about the torture, extrajudicial executions and illegal detentions he experienced, was mentioned. The Committee requested information on the status of the investigation of both cases, and information on the offenders responsible for these crimes.
On July 26, the Russian Federation will respond to questions posed by members of the Committee against Torture. After that, the Committee will make its recommendations. We hope that they will include recommendations to immediately conduct a transparent and effective investigation of the persecution of LGBT people in Chechnya, and to provide protection to the victims of these persecutions.