May has written a response to a letter co-signed by both Labour and Tory politicians urging her to denounce the human rights violations occurring in the region—following reports that over 100 gay men have been detained by authorities and at least three have been killed.
“This is a deeply troubling issue and I appreciate you sharing your concerns with me,” May wrote to Labour MEP Seb Dance, who co-wrote the letter.
“Officials from our Embassy in Moscow have raised our concerns at a senior level with the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and are exploring possibilities for a joint démarche with our international partners in country.
“Urgent action is also being taken to explore how best to provide support to the LGBT+ community in the region.
May continued: “You are right to raise concerns about the unacceptable statement issued by the regional government in Chechnya.
“The UK Government has made clear that this response, implying that such treatment towards LGBT+ people is tolerable, is particularly abhorrent.”
She added: “More widely, the issue of LGBT+ rights is one that the UK raises regularly with the Russian authorities.
“I can reassure you that we have raised concerns, particularly about the Russian law prohibiting the promotion of ‘non-traditional’ sexual relations to minors since it came into place in June 2013.”
Last week, German Chancellor Angela Merkel put pressure on Russian President Vladimir Putin to investigate the situation in Chechnya.
However, the US government is yet to weigh in with a White House spokesperson commenting that she was unsure if President Trump was aware of the issue.
Sarah Huckabee Sanders was asked by Chris Johnson of the Washington Blade why there was no mention of LGBT+ rights in Chechnya during Trump’s meeting with Russian foreign correspondent Sergey Lavrov.
Huckabee Sanders first responded by saying: “I’m sorry, could you speak up a little bit.”
Johnson then asked: “Is the reason why it wasn’t included in the readout is because President is not informed about reports of anti-gay violence in Chechnya?”
“Ah–uh, look, I mean a lot of times there are parts of the conversation that aren’t specifically included in a readout,” said Huckabee Sanders.
“Umm, but, I’m not aware, I have not had that conversation.
“So I do not know, I was not part of that meeting.
“So I cannot speak to every detail and I would have to refer you to the readout on the specifics of what I know was discussed," she said.
You can watch the video here: