Sen. Rubio Denounces Gay Chechnya Arrests on Senate Floor

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Washington Blade photo by Michael Key.

(WB) Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) denounced on the Senate floor Monday the ongoing reports of anti-gay arrests and detention in Chechnya, blaming Russian President Vladimir Putin for allowing them to happen.

Rubio, who previously denounced the alleged atrocities on Twitter, called on the U.S. government to “do more to ensure that all people are protected and those who harm them are held responsible.”

“We should use our voice on the global stage to call attention to these horrifying acts and to ensure that they are condemned in an appropriate way, ultimately in the hopes that they will be stopped,” Rubio said.Novaya Gazeta, an independent Russian newspaper, earlier this month reported Chechen authorities have arrested more than 100 gay men in the semi-autonomous Russian republic in the North Caucuses. The Washington Blade has confirmed additional reports that indicate these men have been sent to secret prisons.

Chechnya is led by Ramzan Kadyrov, who has denied the atrocities are happening by asserting gay people don’t exist there, but Rubio said Putin is also culpable because the semi-autonomous Republic is under the jurisdiction of Russia. A Putin spokesperson has also denied the atrocities on basis that the Kremlin has no basis to disbelieve Kadyrov.

“Well, the actual complaints are all around us,” Rubio said. “They have been well documented in publications throughout the world, but instead, Vladimir Putin is choosing to prop up Kadyrov, the Chechen brutal dictator, and prop up his brutal regime instead of holding them accountable.”

Rubio said the reports of anti-gay atrocities in Chechnya are “not a new reality for those living under the brutal tyranny of the Chechen leader,” citing Kadyrov’s alliance with Putin, who installed him as leader of the semi-autonomous Republic.

“There have been reports in the past of similar abuses, although these reports seem to be the most brutal and should provoke anger in all of us,” Rubio said. “We should never, ever tolerate human rights violations against any person for their political views, their religious beliefs, or their sexual orientation.”

Rubio isn’t the only Republican to have denounced the reported anti-gay arrests and detentions in Chechnya, which has proved to inspire bipartisan condemnation. Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) have also spoke out against them via Twitter.

But the Florida Republican condemns the alleged atrocities after a largely anti-LGBT record in Congress that includes a vote against the Employment Non-Discrimination Act and criticism of LGBT advocates for seeking marriage equality in the courts, not the legislative process. The most recent Human Rights Campaign congressional scorecard allots Rubio a score “0” out of possible “100.”

If you want to help gay men flee Chechnya, you can participate in this Facebook fundraiser here.

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