Amid disturbing reports from U.N. human rights officials and others that gay men are being targeted for elimination in Chechnya, top leaders of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) have issued a statement expressing “grave concern” for the LGBTQI community in that southern Russian republic.
The statement by General Assembly Stated Clerk J. Herbert Nelson and Presbyterian Mission Agency Interim Executive Director Tony De La Rosa reaffirms the PC(USA)’s commitment to human rights for all people and calls upon the U.S. government to pressure the Russian and Chechen governments to abide by international law and “ensure the safety of gay men and their LGBTQI community…” in Chechnya.
The full text of the statement:
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) expresses its grave concern at the reports from UN human rights experts, Amnesty International and other sources about the abductions, torture, and killing of men suspected of being gay in the southern Russian republic of Chechnya. We call Presbyterians to hold in prayer the LGBTQI community in Chechnya and other countries where they are made vulnerable around the world.
We call on the government of Russia and Chechnya to stop the persecution and to take immediate steps to ensure the safety of gay men and their LGBTQI community and to protect all their citizens, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.
We call on our government to pressure the Russian and Chechen governments to fulfill their responsibilities to protect all their citizens under international human rights law.
We affirm the call of UN human rights experts to the authorities in Russia and Chechnya “to proceed with the immediate release of everyone unlawfully detained in the Republic of Chechnya on the basis of their actual or perceived sexual orientation, to conduct prompt, thorough and impartial investigations into all suspected cases of abduction, unlawful detention, torture and unlawful killing, and to ensure that all those involved in such acts are held to account, and that victims are provided with effective remedy”.
International human rights law guarantees equality and non-discrimination to all people, without regard to sexual orientation and gender identity or any other status. Human rights treaties do not allow States to withhold full rights from people purely on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity
The commitment of our General Assembly to the human rights of LGBTQI persons is long standing, dating to 1977. The 222nd General Assembly (2016) of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) committed the church to the goals expressed in the May 2015 Report of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights “Discrimination and violence against individuals based on their sexual orientation and gender identity”. These goals include protecting individuals from violence, and preventing torture and ill-treatment. A resource, The Global Crisis for the People who are LGBT and Their Families: A Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Response, was created in response to an action of the 221st General Assembly (2014).
The Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) remains committed to work toward the day when the human rights of the all persons are honored in all countries, without regard to their sexual orientation or gender identity.
J. Herbert Nelson, II
Stated Clerk of the General Assembly
Tony De La Rosa
Interim Executive Director, Presbyterian Mission Agency