“Amin’s story of escaping anti-LGBTQ violence in Chechnya is heartbreaking, inspiring and sends a powerful message highlighting the strength and resilience of LGBTQ refugees and asylum seekers,” said HRC Senior Director for Strategic Initiatives & Research Ty Cobb. “On World Refugee Day, we are in solidarity with LGBTQ refugees and asylum seekers fleeing violence and conflict from some of the most dangerous places in the world. Today and every day, HRC is united with our partners in sending a resounding message that we are a proud nation of immigrants, and refugees are welcome here.”
"In 2017, police in Chechnya began a crackdown against LGBTQI citizens. Hundreds were arrested and tortured, simply for who they love or how they express their gender. One of those people was Amin, who we helped escape to Toronto,” said Rainbow Railroad Executive Director Kimahli Powell.
Amin is the victim of the horrific anti-LGBTQ purge that took place in Chechnya in 2017. With the help of Rainbow Railroad, Amin escaped to Toronto, where he has become an outspoken advocate for LGBTQ rights and the work of Rainbow Railroad, a Canada-based international organization that helps LGBTQ people escape countries where they may face danger because of their LGBTQ identity.
Rainbow Railroad’s new report The Impact of COVID-19 on Displaced LGBTQI Persons outlines the specific vulnerabilities that disproportionately affect displaced LGBTQ people amid the COVID-19 pandemic, including the impact of the virus on refugee populations, harassment and persecution of LGBTQ people resulting in further displacement and border closures as a result of COVID-19 that could lead to the breakdown of refugee resettlement and a refusal to accept asylum claims.
On June 30, in recognition of LGBTQ Pride Month, HBO will premiere David France’s documentary Welcome to Chechnya, which spotlights a group of Russian and Canadian activists risking their lives to support refugees - like Amin - escape from Chechnya and expose the atrocities of anti-LGBTQ persecution and violence in the country. HRC’s #EyesOnChechnya campaign was part of the international outcry over the human rights abuses.
Organized by the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) in 2000, World Refugee Day is an international day of observance held annually on June 20 to promote global awareness and responsibility for refugees around the world. According to the UNHCR, there are currently 68.5 million people who have been forcibly displaced worldwide due to war, conflict, persecution, natural disasters or extenuating circumstances. Since 2016, the number of refugees allowed into the U.S. has been slashed from an annual goal 110,000 to fewer than 20,000 in 2020.
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