The charity organization Rainbow Railroad helped 35 representatives of the LGBT community in Chechnya come to Canada, and 31 of them have received asylum, CBC News reported.
“We are working on a program with the Canadian government which will make it possible for persecuted LGBT Chechens to enter the country,” Rainbow Railroad executive director Kimahli Powell told CBC News in an interview.
According to him, the charity organization has already helped 140 members of the LGBT community from around the world. In 2017, Rainbow Railroad joined together with the Russian LGBT community and, according to Powell, created safe communication channels for people in Chechnya who require evacuation. Powell went to Russia himself in May this year, where he met with gays in Chechnya and established contact with Ottawa.
According to Powell, the Canadian government has played a “major role” in developing a program to provide asylum, and Canadian Foreign Minister Christia Freeland has also been involved. Powell did not disclose the details of the evacuation or the extent to which the Canadian government has been involved in this operation thus far, since not all of the members of the Chechen LGBT community have been brought to Canada. He emphasized that in Chechnya there are still 40 people who intend to apply for asylum in Canada.
Rainbow Railroad was established in 2006, and specializes in giving aid to LGBT activists who are “seeking asylum from violence, murder or persecution from the state”.
In April this year, Novaya Gazeta published an article on the mass persecution of gays in Chechnya. The article also mentioned that the senior clergy of the republic approve of the persecution of members of the LGBT community.
Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov’s press secretary responded by saying that “It is impossible to arrest or oppress people who do simply do not exist in the country”. He called the Novaya Gazeta article “an absolute lie” and “an attempt to slander the Chechen Republic”.
Kadyrov himself also stated that there are no gays in Chechnya, and called the information on their oppression “nonsense”. “And if there are, then take them to Canada, praise be to Allah, further away from us, so that there are none of them, in order to purify the blood,” Kadyrov commented.
Jambulat Umarov, Chechen minister of national policy, foreign relations, press and information also said that there are no gays in the republic and never have been. “I wouldn’t be surprised if tomorrow [Novaya Gazeta journalist] Milashina thinks up a story about the oppression of cavemen or martians,” Umarov stressed.