Melbourne Stands In SolidarityStand with Our gay and bisexual brothers in Chechnya.

Let’s stand in solidarity with gay and bisexual men in Chechnya following reports that Chechen authorities are abducting, torturing and in some instances killing gay and bisexual men in the region because of their sexuality.

Catherine Barrett and Adam Pulford are organising the Pink Wolves candlelight vigil to be held in Federation Square at 6 pm on Tuesday, May 16, a day before the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia (IDAHOBiT). IDAHOBiT raises awareness of the alarming situation faced by LGBTI people across the world.

“I was devastated when I first heard these horrific reports and knew I had to do something about it,” Ms Barrett said. “I keep imagining how it could have been my brother or my friends if they lived in Chechnya. We are running the vigil to give Melburnians a chance to stand in solidarity with the Chechen LGBTI community and to remember the men who have been killed.

“We have called it the Pink Wolves Vigil because the wolf is the national animal of Chechnya and a symbol of freedom and equality. We are calling for freedom and equality for gay and bisexual men in Chechnya.”

The group is also calling on Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and the Australian government to provide refuge and safety in Australia for gay and bisexual men who remain in Chechnya.

“Men in Chechnya are being tortured and killed because of who they love and Australia has an opportunity to do something about it,” Mr Pulford said. “The gay and bisexual men who remain in Chechnya are in grave danger. By providing them refuge in Australia we could save lives.” 

The international organisation Human Rights Watch has previously reached out to the Australian government to provide a safe haven for Chechen victims as Australia does not have a Chechen diaspora and is very far removed from the region.