Global LGBT Rights

Part of Modern Slavery Act 2015 – in the House of Commons at 3:31 pm on 26th October 2017.

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Photo of Crispin Blunt Crispin Blunt Conservative, Reigate 3:31 pm, 26th October 2017

I pay tribute to my right hon. Friend Nick Herbert for securing the debate and for the leadership he gives to the all-party group. He has taken the more voluntary route of taking himself off to the Back Benches to champion these causes and we all benefit from the quality of his leadership. I took a rather more compulsory route, but that does mean that I have the freedom to engage with these incredibly important issues. I want to reflect on why they are so important. What has brought us here today are the headline issues, raised by previous speakers, relating to what is happening in Azerbaijan, Egypt and Chechnya. We only have to go online to see horrific videos of mob justice in Nigeria, where gay men are being lynched, and the administration of ISIS justice, with gay people heaved off tall buildings.

I want to reflect briefly on some of the headline issues in Chechnya, because the cases there are truly appalling. My right hon. Friend the Member for Arundel and South Downs talked about Maxim Lapunov. He was lucky enough to survive. There is, however, the story of popstar Zelimkhan Bakayev, who went back to Chechnya on 8 August for his sister’s wedding. By all the accounts I was able to get hold of, he was arrested within three hours and was dead within 10. This was a man whose picture taken with Ramzan Kadyrov, when the Chechen leader wanted to ride on the back of this popstar’s popularity. If that can happen to him in Chechnya, we can draw our own conclusions about how appalling the situation is and our expectations of the Russian authorities to do anything about it.

Headline atrocities have brought us here today: the dreadful scale of arrests in Azerbaijan and Egypt, and direct state repression. The number of people affected by direct oppression runs into many hundreds of thousands. There are people who are in relationships that they do not want to be in, people who have experienced “corrective rape”, and people who are in forced marriages. There are millions of people—probably between 50 million and 100 million in India—who, because of the laws of their countries, are simply not able to be themselves.