The jurors of the Queer Palm Award at the Cannes Film Festival have staged a protest condemning the attacks on gay men in Chechnya.
The judges, including Lidia Terki, Travis Mathews and Yair Hochner, were among those who held up signs on the red carpet during the festival in the south of France on Sunday (21 May).
They were attending a screening of ‘120 Beats Per Minute’ - a Robin Campillo-directed film, which recounts the early days of ACT UP and AIDS activism in Paris during the 1990s Paris. It is already considered to be a serious contender for Cannes’ prestigious Palm d’Or award.
The signs read “Silence = Death”, “Unified”, “Still!?”, “Enough”, “No More”, and “Chechnya” as they protested against the shock emergence of “concentration camps” in the federal republic of Russia.
Prisoners in the camps are believed to be beaten and electrocuted in attempts to force them to leave Chechnya, and also get them to reveal the whereabouts of other homosexuals in the Muslim-majority region in the North Caucasus.
A crackdown on gay men in the region was first reported in newspaper Novaya Gazeta, with it being alleged more than 100 Chechen men were imprisoned and at least three killed.
Prime Minister Theresa May recently bowed to pressure from MEPs to comment on the matter, insisting “urgent action is also being taken to explore how best to provide support to the LGBT+ community in the region”.
She said: “You are right to raise concerns about the unacceptable statement issued by the regional government in Chechnya. The UK Government has made clear that this response, implying that such treatment towards LGBT+ people is tolerable, is particularly abhorrent.
“More widely, the issue of LGBT+ rights is one that the UK raises regularly with the Russian authorities. I can reassure you that we have raised concerns, particularly about the Russian law prohibiting the promotion of ‘non-traditional’ sexual relations to minors since it came into place in June 2013.”