Interview: Chechnya and LGBTQ concerns

Allow me to re-introduce you to Nicklaus Thomas-Symonds. Nick (as we called him) was one of my tutors during my time at Oxford. A leading barrister, academic and writer, Nick was already quite prominent within academic and political circles in Britain. He was elected as the Labour MP for Torfaen in May 2015 and was serving as the Shadow Solicitor General. He is now running for re-election. Nick was chosen as “Member to Watch” at the Welsh Politician of the Year Awards and recently, one of his speeches caught my attention. 

He spoke about the human rights crisis in Chechnya in the House of Commons. Honest in his approach, he mentioned that the Russian government “have been found wanting when it comes to human rights”.

“They need to be constantly reminded that they should honour their international human rights obligations,”

“How can we ensure that other countries are similarly robust in explaining that to the Russian government, not least because those members of the LGBT community in Chechnya must be feeling so insecure at the moment?”

As a follow-up, I decided to interview him about the Chechnya and LGBTQ rights that have been violated. 

Anmol Soin: Russia, till early April, talked about how they had no official intimation of the challenges faced by the LGBTQ community. What kind of response would you like to see from the Russian government? (Source

Nicklaus Thomas-Symonds:  It was very disappointing when Putin’s spokesman Dimitry Peskov said “We do not have any reliable information about any problems in this area.”  The Russian Government should set out the facts and speak against all forms of human rights abuses.

AS: What would you like to hear from the UK government? What would an ideal response to this situation be?
N: The UK government needs to be clear and direct with the Kremlin about what is unacceptable. It was disappointing that the Foreign Secretary chose not to visit Moscow recently.  
AS: What can the UK do in the UNHRC and other bodies to put pressure on the Russian systems?
N: The UK government needs to build as wide a coalition of nations as possible willing to speak directly to the Russian Government. 
AS:Does the lack of a suitable response from the government after the statements from the Chechen Interior Ministry about LGBTQ worry you?
N: It is extremely worrying. The Russian government has to be judged on its words and deeds.  
AS: What would you like to say to the community affected by the human rights violations in that part of the world? Are there any reassurances or statements of support you would like to offer?
N: I can understand how insecure those in  the LGBTQ community in Chechnya must feel. The reassurance I would offer is that there are politicians in other countries who care, and will continue to speak out.  
Thank you, Nick. And all the best for the upcoming elections. 


Anmol Soin

Anmol Soin

Managing Editor at InPRA
Anmol Soin has finished his post-graduate education from the University of Oxford and the University of St.Andrews. Anmol will always credit his academic growth to his time at St.Xavier’s College, Mumbai.

Formerly engaged as a consultant and a researcher for the 14th Finance Commission (Government of India), he has also worked for the Knowledge Partnership Program (IPE Global and UK Government’s Department For International Development).

He was also the Professor for ‘The Economics of International Relations and Geopolitics’ for the final year undergraduates at NMIMS. Having worked at multiple think-tanks, he brings his experiences as a professor and a consultant together to try and frame a comprehensive overview of International Economics for InPRA.
Anmol Soin