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The Senate Has Finally Condemned the Anti-LGBTQ Purge in Chechnya Nine Months After It Began

A bipartisan resolution passed in the U.S. Senate has denounced the attacks on LGBTQ people in Chechnya, nine months after police began rounding up and torturing gay men.

The resolution, which was pushed by Pat Toomey (R-Penn.) and Ed Markey (D-Ma.), called on authorities in the semi-independent Russian territory to cease the violent crackdown. More than 100 individuals have been forcibly detained since February in an extermination campaign spearheaded by Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov.

Reports claim that detainees have been beaten, electrocuted, and placed into concentration camps. At least three have been killed.

“The Senate condemns the violence and persecution in Chechnya and calls on Chechen officials to immediately cease the abduction, detention, and torture of individuals on the basis of their actual or suspected sexual orientation, and hold accountable all those involved in perpetrating such abuses,” states the resolution.

The authors urge Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has dismissed reports of anti-LGBTQ abuse as false, to take overdue action on the issue.

“The Senate calls on the Government of the Russian Federation to protect the human rights of all its citizens, condemn the violence and persecution, investigate these crimes in Chechnya, and hold accountable all those involved in perpetrating such abuses,” the statement reads.

The Senate measure, which was ratified Thursday, follows an earlier measure approved by the House in June.

The U.S. government has been extremely slow to take action against the crisis. Although U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley claimed that the White House is “disturbed” by the reports, neither President Donald Trump nor Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has spoken out about the attacks, which remain ongoing.

Most recently, a popular Russian singer was reportedly swept up in the anti-LGBTQ purge. Zelimkhan Bakayev, 26, was last seen in the Chechen capital of Grozny this August. He is believed to be dead.

LGBTQ rights advocates championed the Senate statement, despite the larger inaction from the United States.

“This resolution is a victory not just for LGBT! people in Chechnya, but for those across the world,” said Daniel Balson, Amnesty International USA’s director for advocacy in Europe and Central Asia, in a statement. “Authorities who support violence against vulnerable communities must know that the world will not meet their campaign of hate with silence.”

“By passing this resolution the Senate is showing that Congress is leading the charge on human rights issues,” added Human Rights First Advocacy Counsel Shawn Gaylord.

“Last night’s vote is a message to Russian leadership that America remains on guard against those that would persecute vulnerable communities,” he said in a Thursday press release. “We hope this will drive further engagement by the State Department and White House.”

Despite vowing to eliminate the LGBTQ community, Kadyrov has continually denied that gay people even exist in Chechnyaas paradoxical as it seems.

“This is nonsense,” the strongman told sportscaster Bryant Gumbel in July. “We don’t have those kinds of people here. We don’t have any gays. If there are any, take them to Canada. [] Take them far from us so we don’t have them at home. To purify our blood, if there are any here, take them.”