Letter: Ambassador Huntsman, join in condemning persecution of LGBTI Chechens

(Chris Detrick | The Salt Lake Tribune) Jon M. Huntsman, Jr., U.S. Ambassador to Russia, and his wife Mary Kaye Huntsman during an Ambassadorial Swearing in Ceremony at the Utah Capitol Saturday, October 7, 2017.

On Oct. 3, former Gov. Jon Huntsman Jr. was presented as the U.S. ambassador to Russia. I wish Ambassador Huntsman the best and I would urge him to use his position to draw more attention to the state of LGBTI rights in the Russian republic of Chechnya.

Last April, it was revealed that more than 100 gay men were detained in Chechnya, beaten, tortured and, in some cases, killed. Homophobia is rampant throughout Chechnya, to the extent that “honor killings” of gay family members rarely result in punishment and have even been endorsed by the region’s leader, Ramzan Kadyrov.

In response to this news, the Canadian government granted asylum to 31 LGBTI Chechens. On the other hand, the U.S. government denied 40 gay Chechens visas and President Trump hasn’t said a word about their plight.

Therefore, I call on Ambassador Huntsman, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, and President Donald Trump to strongly and decisively condemn the persecution and killings of members of the LGBTI community in Chechnya, and I implore them to work to either help LGBTI Chechens escape these conditions or to work with their Russian counterparts to push for the extension of civil rights to LGBTI Chechens.

Manny Condas, West Valley City

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