In The South

An open letter to the Prime Minister from Brighton & Hove

Craig Hanlon-Smith May 4, 2017

Craig Hanlon-Smith
Craig Hanlon-Smith

Gscene columnist Craig Hanlon-Smith has sent an open letter to the Prime Minister, Theresa May about the plight of our gay brothers in Chechnya.

“As my Prime Minister I wanted to write to ask for your update on an issue that is extremely important to me, a member of the UK electorate. You will no doubt have heard of the horrific stories coming out of Chechnya pertaining to the kidnap, beating, imprisonment, torture and murder of gay men in recently constructed concentration camps. And now, that their families are being asked to kill their gay sons before the authorities do. As with all bullies, the Chechnyan authorities are internationally denying their actions and stating how could they possibly undertake such activities when there are no homosexuals within their republic. This response Mrs May insults both mine and your intelligence.

You will possibly have watched in a quieter moment on the campaign trail, perhaps in the overnight bus on the way back from Cornwall, the press conference given by Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin. I was heartened to see a major European leader taking Putin to task on this issue from Chechnya in such a public and open forum. This is precisely the type of action a major European leader should be taking on the world stage.

Could you, therefore, please give me and other members of my community an update on your communication with Putin, or indeed members of the Chechnyan local government on this very issue.

I know that some years ago you appeared not to support our community and voted against the repeal of section 28 but that is old news. You have in recent years publicly supported the LGBT+ communities in the UK, and sent a direct message to the people of Brighton & Hove in the run up to Brighton Pride last year. Brighton Kemptown as you will no doubt be aware, is a Conservative held seat. This change of heart you appear to have had is most welcome and appreciated.

As actions speak much louder than words, could you please give me an update on what action you have taken to make this position on LGBT+ rights clear to the international community, the President of Russia and his Chechnyan counterparts.

When will your press conference be held that challenges Mr.Putin on his refusal to acknowledge this is happening to gay men right under his nose, on his Presidential watch, and that it is both socially unacceptable and against international law?

What letters have you written to address this matter and can we see them in the public domain? I know that your relationships with Ms. Merkel is a little strained at present but I hope that as she is leading by example, you may at least follow in some of her footsteps.

You have written to President Putin I assume? An email? Surely, this is a topic regularly on your discussion list with Mr. Trump as you both made such a public display of your affection for one another at the beginning of his presidency. Whilst you’re at it, could you ask President Trump to confirm or deny whether or not he is rolling back Federal LGBT+ rights in his own country, as surely this would be a retrograde step for the leader of the free world?

I have read today that Mr. Trump and Mr. Putin are working together on a strategy for North Korea, so perhaps you could put a word in for the worldwide gays as these leaders of significant world powers are now such friends.

I appreciate how busy you are in the run up to the general election and that the torture, nay murder of gay foreigners might not be a current priority. In Brighton we are watching you and your government, and I can assure you that gay people vote too. In fact one of your MPs Mr. Simon Kirby in the Brighton Kemptown constituency, holds a tight marginal seat with barely 400 votes needed to swing it. Your support on this issue could really make a difference.

When both supported or indeed cornered, I can assure you that the LGBT+ communities are terrific in coming together and getting things done. Forgive my use of a colloquial term in such a formal letter, but I have always loved the word ‘terrific’.

I saw on the evening news yesterday you, with pride, referring to a previous description of yourself as a “bloody difficult woman”. I can assure you, you are nothing until you have had encountered a “bloody difficult homosexual.”

Please help us to help our Chechnyan brothers. After all, it is part of your job.”

Yours sincerely, Craig Hanlon-Smith

To sign the Amnesty International petition calling for the killings to stop, click here: