Appearing before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on Wednesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson testified that he had yet to raise the issue of attacks on gay men in Chechnya with the Russians.
In April, Novaya Gaceta reported that authorities in Chechnya have rounded up dozens of suspected gay men and killed three. It has since reported that the men are being held at six secret prisons without due process and that the campaign has resulted in the deaths of 26 men since the start of the year.
Out Congressman David Cicilline, a Democrat from Rhode Island, pressed Tillerson on the issue.
“Did you discuss the issue with these atrocities when you met with the Russian foreign minister, or any other government officials at any other time?” Cicilline asked.
“Those are on our pending list,” Tillerson answered. “We did not make our way through all of the issues in the meetings we've had.”
When asked whether President Donald Trump had raised the issue with Russian President Vladimir Putin, Tillerson said that he was “unaware of whether he has or not.”
The Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation's largest LGBT rights advocate, criticized Tillerson on his handling of the issue.
“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,” said HRC Government Affairs Director David Stacy. “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. The time for action is now.”
Chechnya is a Muslim-majority republic of Russia that attempted to gain its independence from Moscow in the 1990s.
Keep in mind, Tillerson was supposed to be one of the few people in Trumps administration that is LGBT friendly... your buying that right?