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Trump Admin has Yet to Discuss Abuse Against Gay Men in Chechnya with Russian Officials

Thursday Jun 15, 2017

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said during a recent hearing held by the House Foreign Affairs Committee that the U.S. government has yet to mention the abuse and killings against gay men in Chechnya with Russian officials.

Tillerson's comments came when he was being asked questions by Rep. David Cicilline (D-RI), who raised the issue of torture and murder against gay men in the Russian republic. After Tillerson said he's "aware" of the reports detailing the abuse, Cicilline asked if he's discussed the matter with any government officials in Russia.

"Those are on our pending list," Tillerson said.

"So you have not discussed them at all?" Cicilline asks.

"We did not make our way through all the issues in the meetings we had," Tillerson said

"Are you aware whether the president has made has raised the issue with President Putin?" Cicilline then asks of President Donald Trump.

"I am unaware whether he has or not," Tillerson responds.

The Human Rights Campaign blasted the revelations, with the organization's Government Affairs Director David Stacy calling out the secretary of state in a statement.

"People have been tortured and killed in Chechnya, yet Secretary Tillerson admitted today he hasn't raised concern about the atrocities against gay and bisexual men with his Russian counterparts - not even once," Stacy said. "When directly asked during the hearing to clearly condemn the attacks, Sec. Tillerson declined to do so.

"And he had no idea if the President has raised the issue. The Trump/Pence administration's lack of leadership on this issue and human rights around the globe is beyond disturbing," Stacy added. "The time for action is now."

Tillerson recently made headlines when he recognized LGBT Pride Month in a statement to Newsweek. Also in the statement, Tillerson condemned "violence and discrimination" against the LGBT community in the Russian territory of Chechnya.

"In recognition of LGBTI Month, the Department of State affirms its solidarity with the human rights defenders and civil society organizations working around the world to uphold the fundamental freedoms of LGBTI [Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Intersex] persons to live with dignity and freedom," Tillerson's state department wrote in an emailed statement to Newsweek. "We also recognize that LGBTI persons continue to face the threat of violence and discrimination.

"Violence and discrimination targeting any vulnerable group undermine our collective security as well as American values," the statement goes on to say. "When all persons are protected on the basis of equality and with dignity, global stability is strengthened. We will continue to support the human rights of LGBTI persons together with like-minded governments, businesses and civil society organizations globally."

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