Demonstrators will assemble on College Green on Saturday to protest the appalling news that LGBT+ people, and in particular gay men, are being interned and physically abused in camps in Chechnya.
While Theresa May and Boris Johnson have remained reticent, there are moves across the UK to demonstrate the reports confirmed by Human Rights Watch.
The Bristol demo will be held at the same time as similar demos in Leeds, Manchester, Edinburgh, London and Liverpool.
Bristol University student Forzana Khanom is organising the event with help from Bristol Pride.
Forzana said: “It is important that people from all communities and backgrounds speak up when LGBT+ people are being silenced simply for being. We cannot afford to be complacent.”
Forzana wants to add pressure on the Chechen authorities, and will be collecting signatures for a petition and letters to MPs at the rally.
Chechnya is a federal subject of Russia, and is a predominantly Muslim nation. Human Rights Watch confirmed in a statement that “for several weeks now, a brutal campaign against LGBT people has been sweeping through Chechnya.
“Law enforcement and security agency officials… have rounded up dozens of men on suspicion of being gay, torturing and humiliating the victims.
“Some of the men have forcibly disappeared. Others were returned to their families barely alive from beatings. At least three men apparently have died since this brutal campaign began.”
Law student Forzana, who grew up in a Muslim family in London, was inspired to organise the demonstration when her tweets asking if a rally was in the offing were retweeted by other people in Bristol looking for a local demo.
Forzana explained: “The visibility of diverse supporters matters if only to show LGBT+ from religious or ethnic minority backgrounds that there are people from their communities who support and understand the restrictions placed upon them.”
Daryn Carter, director of Bristol Pride and a speaker at the planned rally, said: “On Saturday the Bristol LGBT+ Community and our allies will come together to show solidarity for the LGBT+ community in Chechnya and it’s great to see Bristol rally again to fight injustice.
“Bristol Pride has been working hard to help raise awareness of what is happening in Chechnya since the news first broke, collecting letters urging urgent investigations and asking people to tweet messages of support for the victims”.
“Events like this remind us of the persecution that exists for LGBT+ people around the world and the importance of using our voice to support those who have their voices, and lives, taken away. We cannot let this form of blatant human rights abuse pass by unchallenged.”
The demonstration will take place on College Green on Saturday, April 22 at 3 pm. For more information, visit the Facebook event page, www.facebook.com/events/820312118116664/
Main photo by Colin Moody
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