France welcomes the first refugee from Chechnya during Putin visit
France has accepted the first refugee escaping the ongoing homophobic purge in Chechnya, while Russian President Vladimir Putin was visiting the country.
Joël Deumier, President of France’s gay rights group SOS Homophobie, confirmed the arrival of the Chechen gay man and said many more may follow.
“The first gay Chechen refugee arrived on French land,” he said.”France has started to welcome Chechen refugees. This is going to continue.”
The news emerged on Monday – the same time as newly-elected French President Macron was challenging Putin on Chechnya and LGBT rights.
While gay men from Chechnya have been denied visas to enter the United States , France is the latest country to accept them after Lithuania.
After a closed-doors meeting, Macron says that Putin promised to establish “the whole truth” about the situation in Chechnya.
The Kremlin had previously agreed to conduct an investigation, but Russian officials later dismissed all reports as “false”.
Joël Deumier said: “Mr. Putin has said that he has started an investigation, that it is not true, that there is no violence or murder of gay people.
“That’s completely false. We have concrete proof. We can no longer accept this discourse of denial from Russia against gay people.”
Macron told the press after the meeting: “President Putin has also indicated to me that he has taken several initiatives on the subject of LGBT people in Chechnya, with measures aiming to bring out the whole truth on the actions of the local authorities and to fix the most sensitive issues.
“Regardless, I will, for my part, be constantly vigilant on these issues, which correspond to our values.”
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In April, Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported on the gay persecution and the journalists who uncovered the story had been forced into hiding after receiving death threats.
Since then, LGBT groups have tried to help gay men escape from the Russian region.
The Russian LGBT Network revealed saving more than 40 men earlier this month where living conditions are “deadly dangerous” for gay men.
A number of heart-breaking stories from the region have been shared, including reports of parents of gay people who were issued a warning to kill their children before police killed them in torture camps.
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has said that there are no gay people in Chechnya, labelling homosexuals as ‘fake Chechens’.
He also pledged to eliminate all gay men in the region before the start of Ramadan which began on May 26.
The European Parliament has called for an “immediate, independent and objective” investigation on the persecution as well as the US, UK and Germany that have challenged Putin.
The latest news from Chechnya is that the concentration camp has been destroyed and gay men have been moved to a new location.