OutRight Action International is calling on British Petroleum, Exxon Mobil, and Royal Dutch Shell to take a stand against the kidnapping, detention, torture, and murder of gay men in Chechnya. All three companies have considerable investment and partnerships with state-owned oil and gas companies in Russia, with ventures worth hundreds of billions of dollars.
Jessica Stern, Executive Director of OutRight Action International, urges the major oil companies to take a stand and said,
"This is one of the worst homophobic campaigns the world has ever seen. If Russia will not listen to other governments or even the United Nations, it is time to see if we can get money to talk in a language that they will listen to. The arrests and torture of perceived gay men has to end and those involved must be held to account."
Over the past two weeks hundreds of gay men or those perceived to be gay have been systematically rounded up by Chechen authorities and placed in what is now being referred to as concentration camps. While multiple independent sources have confirmed the existence of unofficial prisons, Chechen authorities continue to deny these allegations and Putin continues to ignore these serious crimes.
Diplomatic voices have been expressed on these issue with government officials from the United States, the European Union, the United Kingdom, Germany, and others demanding the halt of arrests and investigation into these crimes. United Nations Special Rapporteurs also issued an urgent appeal to the Russian authorities, however diplomacy is proving to be ineffective in pressuring Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov or Vladimir Putin from putting a stop to these atrocities.
Exxon, BP, and Shell have policies in place that protect LGBTIQ employees against harassment and discrimination. Public documents and statements from the companies indicate:
Shell aims to "strive to be a pioneer of LGBT inclusion in the workplace," are a part of Workplace Pride in Amsterdam, and flies the rainbow flag during pride celebrations.
BP asserts that they are the "highest-ranking energy company in the Stonewall Workplace Equality Index," and members of the BP Pride Group lead pride parades around the world.
Exxon protects all LGBTIQ employees from discrimination, and a spokesperson has said that "ExxonMobil supports a work environment that values diversity and inclusion"
"The capture, detention, and torture of men perceived to be gay in Chechnya is a grotesque human rights violation on a prolific scale. Exxon, BP, and Shell should use the leverage they have on Russia and use any means possible to urge Russian authorities to immediately end these horrific persecutions. This goes beyond business interests, it is a matter of life and death."
OutRight launches their petition today and encourages the public to join them in requesting Exxon, BP, and Shall take action to stop the targeting of gay men in Chechnya. You can access the petition at the link: iglhrc.nonprofitsoapbox.com/demand-stop-to-detentions-in-chechnya .