With recent reports of abductions, detentions, enforced disappearances, torture and deaths targeting gay and bisexual men in Chechnya, a Canadian non-profit human rights organization announced today an emergency response plan to assist those in danger.
Founded in 2006, Rainbow Railroad actively assists LGBTQ people escape danger through its global network of safe routes.
“Since we first received initial reports of gay concentration camps being established in Chechnya, Rainbow Railroad immediately re-classified Eastern Europe as a priority region,” explains Executive Director, Kimahli Powell. “This means we’re expanding our on-the-ground contacts as well as increasing our capacity to identify and assess new or alternative safe routes out of Chechnya.”
To assist in this effort, Rainbow Railroad is working closely with the Russian LGBT Network, a non-governmental organization currently leading the campaign to rescue those facing danger in Chechnya. The two organizations will work together to identify individuals who need to be evacuated – with Rainbow Railroad providing direct travel assistance.
“An important part of our emergency response plan is to support the Russian LGBT Network in their rescue campaign,” says Powell. “This includes fundraising to support the organization while allocating resources to increase the number of people we can support in the region.. In addition, we are formally requesting the Canadian government provide direct assistance to those in need by way of emergency visas.”
Powell says providing and expediting humanitarian visas, refugee resettlement, or any other legal entry is essential given the level of threat LGBTQ people face not only in Chechnya, but in many parts of the world currently. According to the 2016 International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association’s (ILGA) State Sponsored Homophobia report, 73 countries still criminalize homosexuality. The death penalty may be applied in 13 UN member states.
“The situation in Chechnya is part of a global pattern of ongoing state-enabled or state-sanctioned violence against LGBTQ people,” Powell says, citing Indonesia, Bangladesh and The Gambia as three recent examples. “This is why the number of people who reach out to us each year is growing.”
Last year, Rainbow Railroad received 600 requests for assistance, and was able to help 81 individuals reach safety. To date, the organization has assisted more than 300 people escape to safe countries. Each case requires thousands of donation dollars to help just one person escape persecution in their home country.
Rainbow Railroad is calling out to Canadians to help today by going to www.rainbowrailroad.ca/donate.
For more details on Rainbow Railroad’s emergency response plan relating to Chechnya, or to learn more about Rainbow Railroad’s global efforts to assist LGBTQ people escape the threat of violence, refer to the media contacts below.
About Rainbow Railroad
Rainbow Railroad is a volunteer-led charitable organization that assists LGBTQ people seeking safe haven from state-enabled violence, persecution and the threat of death where homosexuality is criminalized. We provide information, connections, and funding for travel and other associated costs. To get on board with Rainbow Railroad and help save LGBTQ lives, visit www.RainbowRailroad.ca or go to Facebook.com/RainbowRailroad.