Three gay rights groups in France filed suit on Monday in the Internal Court to accuse the Russian republic of Chechnya of carrying out a “gay genocide” on its territory.
Stop Homophobie, Mousse and Comite Idaho France cited the case of a teenage boy whose uncle reportedly pushed him from a balcony for being gay as emblematic of the anti-LGBTQ “wave of persecution” taking place. The move comes as Chechen authorities continue to claim that no such persecution is occurring, despite numerous journalists’ and human rights NGOs’ accounts to the contrary since April. Activists in Moscow were detained last week as they sought to deliver a petition to investigate the reported abuses.
Etienne Deshoulieres, a lawyer representing the three gay rights groups, called [Chechen president Ramzan] Kadyrov “the architect” of a “genocide.”
He said the Chechen leader was “the organiser of torture camps with the desire to exterminate homosexuals.”
Alexandre Marcel, chairman of Comite Idaho France, said the complaint was “the only way to pursue Nazi behaviour” at an international level.
Although the Russian president had appeared to agree to an investigation following the intercession of German chancellor Angela Merkel, the official Russian position has been and continues to be to deny or downplay reports of the deteriorating situation in Chechnya, with one of its diplomats stationed in Israel most recently writing to Israeli newspaper Haaretz to protest its coverage. In particular, it dismissed claims of a detention center in the city of Argun:
In the building – which in the past belonged to the military government and called in the articles a “secret prison” – is a storeroom, while a parking lot is located on the nearby space.
There are no victims of persecution, threats or violence. Neither law enforcement authorities or the [UN] Human Rights Council of the president of the Chechen Republic have received complaints on this matter. The Human Rights Council conducted an inquiry of its own and did not find even indirect evidence of such accusations.
Russia in November 2016 announced its decision to withdraw its signature of the Rome statute, which established the International Criminal Court in force in 2002. The ICC complaint notes that there is one year before this takes effect; however, Russia has never ratified its inclusion in the ICC.