Last Sunday, January 20, queer activists from Voices4 and RUSA LGBT stormed the steps of New York City’s Russian Consulate in solidarity with LGBTQ people facing a “second wave” of persecution in the Russian republic.
Sunday’s protest included a vigil and the creation of a memorial for LGBTQ Chechens suffering at the hands of their government. Attendees lit candles and held signs with messages like, “Queer people anywhere are responsible for queer people everywhere,” “You are loved,” and “We see you.”
Lyosha Gorshkov, an exiled queer professor and the co-president of RUSA LGBT, also spoke to the crowd about the atrocities in Chechnya.
In a press statement, Voices4 founder and queer activist Adam Eli noted that Voices4 members were ordered to leave by NYPD officers, who told the crowd the Consulate was protected under Russian law and “isn’t our land.” An unidentified man from inside the Consulate also emerged and began to deconstruct the memorial (pictured below), only to retreat back inside when police appeared and began removing activists and dismantling the memorial.
The disturbing accounts of state-mandated violence in Chechnya, which first surfaced in 2017 and reportedly resumed earlier this month, have resulted in the disappearances and suspected deaths of hundreds of queer Chechens, particularly gay men.
Survivors of the so-called “purge” report being rounded up, detained, tortured, and forced to out other LGBTQ Chechens.
Meanwhile, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov continues to deny the persecution of queer people in Chechnya, even stating in 2017 that the republic “[doesn’t] have any gays.”