U.S. Sen. Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.) added his voice to calls on the Trump administration to admit into the United States asylees fleeing anti-gay persecution in Chechnya, where reports indicate locals are detaining and torturing gay men.
In a letter dated May 9 to the Departments of State and Homeland Security, Cardin says he has “grave concern” about the reports, which indicate more than 100 have been arrested and at least four killed, and urges the administration to take action.
“I urge your Departments to pursue possible avenues for urgently admitting these persecuted LGBT individuals to the United States, preferably via humanitarian parole or expedited refugee processing,” Cardin writes.
In a country known for its anti-gay climate, Cardin writes “there is no safe space” for gay people in Chechnya seeking to escape the violence.
“Fleeing to Europe is also risky, as Chechen criminal organizations have been known to carry out violence in European countries and the threat of honor killings exists in diaspora communities,” Cardin writes. “Without urgent assistance, these gay men have no safe, durable solution to live as who they are.”
In response to a general inquiry on gay asylees from Chechnya, a State Department spokesperson deferred to the Department of Homeland Security, but reiterated a general statement that “the United States continues to be concerned about the situation” in Chechnya.
“The United States categorically condemns the persecution of individuals based on their sexual orientation or any other basis,” said State Department spokesperson Julia Mason.
The State Department and Department of Homeland Security confirmed to the Blade they have received the letter and will respond as appropriate.