Canada grants asylum to LGBT people from Chechnya

Canada grants asylum to LGBT people from Chechnya

Protests have been held over alleged violence in Chechnya

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Canada has granted asylum to 31 LGBT men and women from Chechnya fleeing persecution in their homeland.

The group is being taken to Canada secretly by the federal government and human rights groups, according to the BBC.

An organisation called Rainbow Road has run a programme to help get gay people out of Chechnya, but the programme has remained a secret until now for security reasons.

The executive director of Rainbow Road, Kimahli Powell, confirmed that 31 people have been granted asylum in Canada and 22 of that group are already in the country. All of those granted asylum are aged between 20 and 25.

Four others have also been taken to other countries for their safety. It is thought in total around 70 gay people have escaped from Chechnya, but some are still in Russia.

The government in Chechnya, a semi-autonomous republic in southern Russia, has denied reports of a systematic, state-sponsored campaign against the country's LGBT community. However various reports have surfaced of torture, abduction, detention and murder.

In its attempts to deny the reports, the Chechen government has even claimed there is not a single gay man in the republic. Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov also said in July that if there are any gay people in Chechen they should be taken to Canada.

Full details of the rescue effort are also being kept quiet, and the Canadian government has yet to officially confirm its involvement.