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On IDAHOT, Maloney Leads Video Campaign to Draw Attention to Human Rights Crisis in Chechnya

May 17, 2017
Press Release
Hundreds of Gay Chechens Have Reportedly Been Rounded Up, Imprisoned, Tortured

LGBTQ-rights Organizations Believe International Attention will Prevent Escalation

Washington – Following a successful video campaign surrounding transgender rights on the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT) in 2016, Representative Sean Patrick Maloney has reprised the effort to call attention to the dire human rights situation in the Chechen Republic, a member of the Russian Federation. Over the past two months, LGBTQ-rights organizations worldwide have been concerned about reports that gay men have been imprisoned – and even tortured – just for being gay.

“As a gay guy, I feel a special obligation to speak out about the human rights crisis in Chechnya, and I hope everyone who is concerned about LGBTQ rights will join me on this campaign,” said Representative Sean Patrick Maloney, a Co-Chair of the Congressional LGBT Equality Caucus. “Bringing awareness and international attention to this issue has prevented further abductions of innocent Chechens, and could prevent an escalation of the violence."

Twenty two of Members of Congress joined Rep. Maloney in the video, including Democratic Whip Steny Hoyer (D-MD), Foreign Affairs Committee Ranking Member Eliot Engel (D-NY), fellow Equality Caucus Co-Chairs Jared Polis (D-CO) and David Cicilline (D-RI), Jerrold Nadler (D-NY), Tony Cardenas (D-CA),  Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Colleen Hanabusa (D-HI), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Dan Kildee (D-MI), Ruben Gallego (D-AZ), Brad Schneider (D-IL), Katherine Clark (D-MA), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Scott Peters (D-CA), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Carolyn Maloney (D-NY), Frank Pallone (D-NJ), Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL), Lois Frankel (D-FL), and Seth Moulton (D-MA).

In addition to the compilation video, Rep. Maloney and the LGBT Equality Caucus encouraged Members to post on social media with the hashtag #EyesOnChechnya to raise awareness of the situation. Other Members of Congress also posted their individual videos and graphics during a coordinated tweetstorm. Established in 2004, IDAHOT is an internationally-recognized holiday which seeks to promote awareness of the plight of LGBT people throughout the world. In 2016, Rep. Maloney led a similar effort alongside 24 of his colleagues to show support for the transgender community, which was reeling from the passage of HB 2, “the bathroom bill” in North Carolina. Rep. Maloney also signed-on to two letters encouraging Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley to raise this issue with Russian diplomats, and the United Nations, respectively.

Representative Sean Patrick Maloney is the first openly gay member of Congress from New York. After 22 years together, he married his husband Randy Florke in June 2014 in Cold Spring, NY where they live with their three children.