Chechen gay, bisexual men get asylum in Canada
Canada has discreetly granted asylum to 31 gay and bisexual men from Chechnya working with the NGO Rainbow Railroad, the group`s director has said.
Kimahli Powell, executive director of the Toronto-based NGO said in a Facebook message on Friday that his organization had been able to help 31 LGBTQ people leave Russia and be granted asylum in Canada.
"We have been working on a program with the Canadian government that allowed the entry of persecuted LGBTQ Chechens into the country he told CBC, pointing out that the Canadian government had played a "major role."
The Globe and Mail wrote that "Canada has been secretly giving asylum to gay Chechens fleeing persecution (which could) further impair already tense relations between Russia and Canada. "
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Saturday that Canada was "is proud to stand up and defend rights. LGBTQ rights here and around the world are extremely important to us. Canada will always stand up for rights and protect vulnerable people around the world."
The Globe and Mail reported that Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, a former correspondent in Russia, played an key role in this operation.
Freeland condemned persecution in Chechnya in April, saying in a statement that news of persecution of homosexual and bisexual men in Chechnya is a reprehensible situation.
"We call on the Russian authorities to thoroughly investigate these reports and to immediately ensure the safety of all persons in Chechnya who may be at risk due to their sexual orientation," she said at the time.
The program was kept secret for several months.
Powell told the Globe that he had decided to make the arrival of Chechen refugees public, because those who wanted to come to Canada had arrived there.
Rainbow Railroad, founded in 2006, aims to help LGBT people flee persecution by state actors.