A protest is planned outside the Russian Embassy in London over reports that homosexuals in Chechnya have been beaten and tortured.
It follows a report by the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta detailing how homosexuals are being arrested "in connection with their non-traditional sexual orientation, or suspicion of such" and taken to "concentration camps".
An appeal on Facebook has garnered interest from at least 500 people to turn up at 5.30pm on Wednesday (12 April) at the Russian embassy on the junction of Bayswater Road and Ossington Street.
The Facebook post reads: "London fails if it does not challenge this inhumanity. We MUST stand up to this. Bring banners, flags and most importantly bring yourselves to challenge this oppression and show solidarity with LGBT+ people in Russia.
"It will be a PEACEFUL and LEGAL protest. The Metropolitan Police have been informed and we will work with them in coming hours to ensure a safe event."
Steve Taylor, who is a director of the European Pride Organisers' Association told IBTimes UK: "The world needs to stand up and take note of what is happening to LGBT people in Chechnya. If the reports are true, then there is the very real prospect of genocide once again on Europe's doorstep."
The action follows shocking reports that men are being subject to beatings and electric shock torture in a former military headquarters.
A spokesman for the Russian republic's strongman leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, denied the reports and said that no one in the predominantly Muslim Russian republic was homosexual. "You cannot arrest or repress people who just don't exist in the republic. If such people existed in Chechnya, law enforcement would not have to worry about them since their own relatives would have sent them to where they could never return."
One man whom the authorities detained told Radio Free Europe that he had spent 10 days in a secret jail, housed in a big barracks, where he and other gay inmates were beaten and humiliated. "They constantly threatened to kill us," he says. "I knew that I might not get out alive, but I would rather die myself than ruin someone else's life," the man, whom the news outlet named as Malik, said.
Svetlana Zakharova, an activist for the Russian LGBT Network, told IBTimes UK that the situation was critical. "Right now, there is a situation where homosexual men are being detained – they are being tortured and heavily beaten and people who contacted us said sometimes they are being beaten to death," she said.
A report by Human Rights Watch said that some men have been disappeared, and others returned to their families beaten to within an inch of their lives, adding that: "At least three men apparently have died since this brutal campaign began".