As Trump remains silent, France welcomes its first gay Chechen refugee.

What's happening in Chechnya right now is horrifying.

Since April, reports from a Moscow-based newspaper have trickled out detailing a quiet crackdown on men in Chechnya — a semi-independent state within the Russian Republic — based on their perceived sexual orientations.

The details are more than alarming.


Russian police arrest activists at an LGBTQ rights protest in Moscow in 2015. Photo by Dmitry Serebryakov/AFP/Getty Images.

At least 100 gay and bisexual men with "nontraditional" sexual practices have been rounded up, tortured, and even killed in undisclosed facilities that activists have compared to modern-day concentration camps. While some men have been fortunate enough to get visas and escape in recent days, the situation remains dire.

Chechen officials have denied it's happening despite independent reports from news outlets and human rights groups on the ground in the region. They've even denied LGBTQ people exist in Chechnya.

To the newly elected president of France, Emmanuel Macron, enough is enough.

France has officially opened its doors to the gay and bisexual Chechen refugees whose lives are at risk.

Speaking to news outlet France Info on May 29, Joel Deumier, the head of gay rights group SOS Homophobie, confirmed the first of many expected LGBTQ refugees from Chechnya had arrived in France.

To many French groups trying to shed a light on the atrocities in Chechnya, this is a critical step forward.

Activists with Amnesty International hold a sign that reads "Stop homophobia in Chechnya" in Paris. Photo by Geoffrey Van Der Hasselt/AFP/Getty Images.

Although it's progress worth celebrating, the news isn't all that surprising given Macron's stances on refugee and immigration policy.  

As a candidate, the president called for France to take in its fair share of Syrian refugees, proposed state-run language classes to help integrate new arrivals, and spoke openly about mending relations between the French government and the country's Muslim population, Al Jazeera reported.

The same day France began welcoming Chechen refugees, Macron blasted Russia's lack of action on the matter — with Vladimir Putin right at his side.

The two leaders were in Versailles, France, to discuss world matters. But even as things turned tense during a joint press conference, the French president decided he wasn't about to play nice just because he was hosting the Russian leader.

Photo by Geoffroy Van Der Hasselt/AFP/Getty Images.

"I emphasized to President Putin ... how important it is for France to respect all people, all minorities," Macron told reporters. "We spoke about the cases of LGBT people in Chechnya. ... I told President Putin what France is expecting regarding this issue, and we agreed to regularly check on this subject."

With his pointed remarks, Macron joins the growing list of world leaders speaking out against Chechnya and Russia.

Notably absent from that list? President Donald Trump.

Photo by Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images.

While heads of state like Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and German Chancellor Angela Merkel have publicly and strongly condemned Chechnya's crackdown on gay and bisexual men, Trump has remained silent.

But just because Trump is failing men in Chechnya doesn't mean Americans are standing idly by.

Here's how you can help:

  • Support the Russian LGBT Network. They're a Moscow-based group providing vital relief to Chechen men trying to escape persecution.
  • Call your representatives in Washington. Few senators or members of Congress have spoken out on the issue, and even fewer have taken concrete steps forward to do something about it.
  • Sign and share this petition by OutRight. The group is pressuring energy companies with lots of influence in Russian politics — like Exxon, BP, and Shell — to speak up about the injustice unfolding behind closed doors.
  • Tweet. A lot. Tweet at Donald Trump (@realDonaldTrump, @POTUS, and @WhiteHouse) and the State Department (@StateDept) to demand that our country act.
  • Refuse to stay silent. Men in Chechnya are being silenced. They need you to be their voice now more than ever.
More
Alie Ward

Your dinner plate shouldn't shame you for eating off of it. But that's exactly what a set being sold at Macy's did.

The retailer has since removed the dinnerware from their concept shop, Story, after facing social media backlash for the "toxic message" they were sending.

The plates, made by Pourtions, have circles on them to indicate what a proper portion should look like, along with "helpful — and hilarious — visual cues" to keep people from "overindulging."

There are serval different styles, with one version labeling the largest portion as "mom jeans," the medium portion as "favorite jeans," and the smallest portion as "skinny jeans."

Keep Reading Show less
Well Being

In today's installment of the perils of being a woman, a 21-year-old woman shared her experience being "slut-shamed" by her nurse practitioner during a visit to urgent care for an STD check.

The woman recently had sex with someone she had only just met, and it was her first time hooking up with someone she had not "developed deep connections with."

Keep Reading Show less
Well Being
Youtube

Should a man lose his home because the grass in his yard grew higher than 10 inches? The city of Dunedin, Florida seems to think so.

According to the Institute of Justice, which is representing Jim Ficken, he had a very good reason for not mowing his lawn – and tried to rectify the situation as best he could.

In 2014, Jim's mom became ill and he visited her often in South Carolina to help her out. When he was away, his grass grew too long and he was cited by a code office; he cut the grass and wasn't fined.

France has started forcing supermarkets to donate food instead of throwing it away.

But several years later, this one infraction would come back to haunt him after he left to take care of him's mom's affairs after she died. The arrangements he made to have his grass cut fell through (his friend who he asked to help him out passed away unexpectedly) and that set off a chain reaction that may result in him losing his home.

The 69-year-old retiree now faces a $29,833.50 fine plus interest. Watch the video to find out just what Jim is having to deal with.

Mow Your Lawn or Lose Your House! www.youtube.com

Cities

The world officially loves Michelle Obama.

The former first lady has overtaken the number one spot in a poll of the world's most admired women. Conducted by online research firm YouGov, the study uses international polling tools to survey people in countries around the world about who they most admire.

In the men's category, Bill Gates took the top spot, followed by Barack Obama and Jackie Chan.

In the women's category, Michelle Obama came first, followed by Oprah Winfrey and Angelina Jolie. Obama pushed Jolie out of the number one spot she claimed last year.

Unsurprising, really, because what's not to love about Michelle Obama? She is smart, kind, funny, accomplished, a great dancer, a devoted wife and mother, and an all-around, genuinely good person.

She has remained dignified and strong in the face of rabid masses of so-called Americans who spent eight years and beyond insisting that she's a man disguised as a woman. She's endured non-stop racist memes and terrifying threats to her family. She has received far more than her fair share of cruelty, and always takes the high road. She's the one who coined, "When they go low, we go high," after all.

She came from humble beginnings and remains down to earth despite becoming a familiar face around the world. She's not much older than me, but I still want to be like Michelle Obama when I grow up.

Her memoir, Becoming, may end up being the best-selling memoir of all time, having already sold 10 million copies—a clear sign that people can't get enough Michelle, because there's no such thing as too much Michelle.

Keep Reading Show less
Most Shared