Live Chechnya Urgent Question House of Commons


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Live Chechnya Urgent Question

Live coverage of the urgent question in the House of Commons on the treatment of LGBT people in Chechnya, tabled by Labour MP Stephen Doughty.


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emptying the streets around churches and cathedrals of cars, and extra

:00:00.:00:00.

police women put on duty to protect worshippers before services begin.

:00:00.:00:08.

Order, urging questions to Stephen Dowty. Thank you. Will the Foreign

:00:09.:00:15.

Secretary make a statement on the persecution of LB GT people

:00:16.:00:28.

injection to. The arbitrary detention and ill-treatment of over

:00:29.:00:32.

100 men in Chechnya because of their sexual orientation is of deep

:00:33.:00:37.

concern to the UK. Credible reports suggesting that at least four people

:00:38.:00:42.

have been killed and many have been tortured are particularly shocking.

:00:43.:00:46.

Statements by the regional government in Chechnya, which

:00:47.:00:48.

appeared to condone and incite violence against LGBT people, are

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utterly despicable. We condemn any and all persecution and: They

:00:56.:01:11.

authorities. My right honourable friend the Minister of the released

:01:12.:01:20.

a statement in April outlining the government's concern of the report

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and called upon the government to investigate and ensure perpetrators

:01:26.:01:27.

of human rights abuses are brought to justice. Foreign Secretary has

:01:28.:01:31.

also expressed his serious concerns also expressed his serious concerns

:01:32.:01:35.

through social media. Officials from the British Embassy in Moscow

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reiterated these concerns directly to the Russian government on the

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13th of April, and we are working with international partners in

:01:44.:01:46.

Russia as part of wider lobbying efforts. The EU made a statement on

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the half of member states at the permanent Council of the OSCE on the

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6th of April, and the UK permanent representative to the Council of

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Europe delivered a statement on the UK in the committee of ministers on

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the 19th of April. I praise the Minister for his sincerity on this

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issue, I know he takes it clearly seriously. -- takes it seriously.

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This campaign involves possibly several hundred men, and I want to

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praise the journalists in Russia and the UK and elsewhere, who brought

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this to public attention. We're talking about detention, beatings,

:02:32.:02:34.

abuse, electric shock treatment is. They do not see this likely, but

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some have described gay concentration camps, and we hear of

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at least four killings. The LGBT community have spoken to me about

:02:49.:02:53.

this. LGBT Labour spoke to the Prime Minister and this last week, sadly

:02:54.:02:57.

not getting a reply. I know there have been representations from all

:02:58.:03:05.

parties. President Putin already has a reputation of persecuting LGBT

:03:06.:03:10.

communities, so is he taking a blind eye or is he complicit? The

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Guardian's Shaun Walker expressed the horrors we are seeing, he

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described it, attaching metal clamps and sending electric shocks through

:03:32.:03:35.

his body. If he managed not to screen, others would join in beating

:03:36.:03:41.

him with sticks or metal rods and demand to know names of other gay

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men he knew in Chechnya. If we had any doubts about this brutal regime,

:03:45.:03:52.

we need not. I do have to ask why it has taken so long for the Foreign

:03:53.:03:58.

Secretary. Tweet is not enough to speak out about this, we have not

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heard clear condemnation from the Prime Minister. Has the Prime

:04:03.:04:05.

Minister or Foreign Secretary spoken directly to the Chechen governments,

:04:06.:04:11.

have the called in the ambassador? Does he now regrets his cancelled

:04:12.:04:14.

trip to Moscow, where he could have raised these atrocities in Chechnya

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and Syria? Was the issue raised at the G7 discussion and could do Prime

:04:20.:04:27.

-- the Minister explain what he's going to do on this issue? The

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Foreign Secretary said it was outrageous, but the Foreign Office

:04:33.:04:38.

has referred questions to the Home Office and as yet no clarity has

:04:39.:04:44.

been given. Will be provide refuge from those fleeing this horrendous

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persecution in Chechnya? May I say at the outset that I applaud the

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honourable gentleman for raising this, and I hope it is a topic

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around which this House can unite without any party politics because I

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think a strong united voice in this country, which the honourable

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gentleman is calling for, is the message we should be sending because

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these reports are utterly barbaric. Indeed one of the most disgusting

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things I have seen reported is a Chechen security source stating

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these arrests are part of what he called a preventative clean-up. This

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followed a request simply by an LGBT group to request licenses for gay

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pride parades, and the group had not even applied for a permit in

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Chechnya. Human rights groups report that these campaigns and killings

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are orchestrated by the head of the Chechen Republic. He has carried out

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other violent campaigns in the past, and this time he is directing his

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efforts at the LGBT community. Sources have said he wants the

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community eliminated by the start of Ramadan. Such comments and attitudes

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and actions are absolutely beyond contemptible. Can I assure the

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honourable gentleman under House but in the government, we fully condemn

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this. We do use all engagement with Russia to make our voice clear. I

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did so personally with the Minister of Russia when I met him a few weeks

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ago, we spoke on general human rights matters, but also Chechnya,

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and may I say that I hope this House would be fully united in giving the

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strongest possible message to Russia and Chechnya in particular, that

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this kind of activity is beyond contempt and not acceptable in the

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world in which we live. Can I pay tribute to you in the support you

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have given to the LGBT community send your occupied that chair, Mr

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Speaker. It is right that it should be raised here because we have more

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openly gay members of parliament here than anywhere else in the

:07:06.:07:09.

world. When I was asked in 2010 why I came out, it was to partly send

:07:10.:07:14.

the signal to other people who were troubled about their own sexuality,

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to give them hope and confidence that if people like us can be open

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about their own sexuality, hopefully they would also be able to take some

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form of moral support that it may help them to do likewise. We have

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made fundamental changes around the rest of the world when we have

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looked at issues such as climate change. We have made massive

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advances when we brought countries together on this issue. Can we not

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do the same on LGBT issues, but we can have LGBT change throughout the

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world? Can I ask of one area that might be worth a lot of attention is

:07:58.:08:00.

the Commonwealth, where some countries part of our family of

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nations have slid back as far as LGBT rights are concerned, could he

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give some concentration on that and show that the British Government is

:08:10.:08:13.

going to lead the way on LGBT change throughout the world? Indeed, and I

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think one of the other strong messages as we approach a general

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election, candidates in any party will be able to stand and be openly

:08:25.:08:29.

gay without being in anyway ostracised by their own party or, we

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hope, any part of the electorate. In itself, that sends a very strong

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message to the world. I think it is a great tribute to this House and

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our own democracy that over the last 15 years or so, we have seen all

:08:45.:08:48.

parties have gay members on these green leather benches, and whatever

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the outcome of the election, long may that continue. I also hope it

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will be reflected in the Commonwealth in years to come, as my

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honourable friend suggests, and we must campaign within Commonwealth

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countries to make sure that they do not fail to reflect the standards

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that we in the House reflect when it comes to the LGBT community. Can I

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add my thanks to you for granting this question today. Also to my

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honourable friend the Member for Cardiff South for bringing such an

:09:27.:09:31.

important matter to the House today and speaking so eloquently. Can I

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also thank him for his response and pay tribute to his long record for

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standing up LGBT rights. A brave and much-needed pioneer in that regard.

:09:53.:09:54.

I recall an article by Peter Hitchens in the Daily Mail in 2002,

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entitled, I am sorry, Mr Duncan, if you are gay and not a Tory. And

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goodness that has been resigned to the dustbin. We must do something

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about some parts of Europe. In recent days and weeks we have heard

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reports from organisations and human rights documenting the most terrible

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abuse, causing great distress. It is nothing short of officially

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sanctioned... But the Russian government who beers responsibility

:10:26.:10:31.

ultimately for its citizens seems to be looking the other way. As has

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already been put before the House, there was a letter written a week

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ago by LGBT labour to the Prime Minister, in which they asked

:10:43.:10:46.

particularly that she make the Russian ambassador -- meet the

:10:47.:10:54.

Russian ambassador with some questions, and urge them to be those

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who have been detained and close down those camps. We're speaking

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today with a strong unified voice. But it seems to me that whilst I

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applaud the right honourable gentleman raising this matter, I do

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as a result of the urgent question as a result of the urgent question

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today, I hope we will get an undertaking from the government that

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it will be raised at a much higher political level. It seems to me that

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this matter is something the Prime Minister should take initiative of,

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and called in the Russian ambassador undermanned some answers. May I

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thank the right honourable lady for her town. I had indeed forgotten

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about the Peter Hitchens article. I am not sure I want to be reminded of

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it! But at least I can take pleasure in the fact that no I am but one of

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many on the Tory benches. I hope this statement can be seen as

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reflecting the Prime Minister and the entire government's condemnation

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of this, but I do note what she says about her wish to see the issue

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raised to a higher level of political comment. I have to say,

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another one of the most contemptible elements of this issue is noting

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that a representative for Chechnya's Council on civil society and human

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rights, supposedly someone who is charged with the task of upholding

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human rights said she would not accept an application for help from

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a gay person because the persecution of gay people should not be

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condemned to an Chechen society, even if a person was killed by their

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own family. The LGBT community in Chechnya is not just at risk of

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persecution by the Chechen authorities, but also falling victim

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to so-called honour killings by their own family members. They are

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not safe inside Chechnya, and as I said earlier, what is happening in

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that republic is beyond contemptible.

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Mr Speaker, can I agree entirely with the Minister in his

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condemnation of this terrible, terrible occurrence, but building on

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the remarks of my oral ball friend from Ribble Valley, is he aware that

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the Council of Europe is in plenary session next week and although many

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members such as myself, because of the general election being called

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are unable to attend, some of our colleagues will be at the Council of

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Europe and would he have a word with the ambassador to see whether this

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matter could be raised, for example, in the free debate during the

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plenary session next week? I think it is important that this matter is

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raise continually in an international environment, to put

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more pressure on Russia and the Chechen authorities. Mr Speaker, I

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think the Council of Europe is a very important voice for the

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expression of wider Continental opinion and I certainly will convert

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a two hour ambassador at the wishes of my right honourable friend, which

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I sense will be all also the wishes of the entire house. The scenes and

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stories emanating from Chechnya are beyond comprehension and utterly

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sickening and we share the sentiments that others have

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expressed. And while we may still have many challenges on the LGBT

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equality in the UK, we are fortunate in we have come a very long way and

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then having that greater freedom, we absolutely must use our voices,

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whether we are members of the LGBT community or not and we must say it

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loudly and clearly we condemn this horrific brutality. For the Chechen

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authorities to not only denied these attacks but also, incredulously,

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claimed that no gay people exist within their province is at best

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extraordinary and at worst deceitful. We call for those in the

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region to be protected and the UK Government is, but can do more, to

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project athletes protect LGBT people around the world. The SNP manifesto:

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the Government to establish the position of a special envoy to

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promote the rights of LGBT people around the world as an integral part

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of UK policy. Will the Minister look into this and consider this for

:15:26.:15:28.

their forthcoming manifesto? And can I appeal to the Minister and his

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colleagues to act on the proposals we brought forward, put all the

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pressure he can on Chechnya and Russia to stop these abhorrent

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abuses and persecution of gay men and the wider LGBT divinity. We

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cannot stand idly by and let this happen. Those facing abuse must know

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that we care and we are standing up for them. Well, Mr Speaker, I am

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proud to say are broadly agree with the honourable lady and all that she

:15:56.:16:01.

wishes to see us do is enshrined across the board in our Government

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policy, through gifted, through the Home Office, through our foreign

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policy, and so it will remain, so in that sense, I think we should all be

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envoys in what we do internationally and, indeed, Mr Speaker, FCO

:16:15.:16:21.

officials in Russia meet regularly with LGBT activists and attend LGBT

:16:22.:16:28.

events so that we can provide visible support. We have also

:16:29.:16:33.

provided support to organisations such as Stonewall and helped to

:16:34.:16:37.

facilitate sar Ian McKellan's visit to Russia last year, during which he

:16:38.:16:42.

met LGBT activists in Moscow and St Petersburg and Ekaterinburg and I

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think his powerful messages about UK values resonated at least with

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Russia's next generation. Is there an element of reversion to type

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here, in that it was always a feature of a totalitarian regime to

:17:00.:17:08.

vilify minorities and as a matter of routine political management and,

:17:09.:17:13.

equally, of the former Soviet Union, it was difficult to to identify any

:17:14.:17:16.

person that posed a political threat to brand them as gay and detain them

:17:17.:17:23.

in a mental institution? Well, Mr Speaker, I think Chechnya does

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indeed seem to be the worst of the lot, so in that sense, as part of

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Russia, I would urge President Putin to make his views clear in

:17:31.:17:33.

condemning what is going on in Chechnya. This reminds us that we

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are phenomenally lucky in this country, those of us who are gay,

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because I remember meeting in Russia in 2009, a lesbian activist who was

:17:48.:17:51.

83 years old and I asked how she got away with it and she said "I think

:17:52.:17:57.

President Putin things women don't have sex at the age of 80." How

:17:58.:18:04.

wrong can you be, she said. The serious point is we should be paying

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tribute to those people standing up and risking their own lives and I am

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glad that the Government is acting to try and do that, but isn't this

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all part of a peace? President Putin appointed Khedira as president in

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Chechnya, he has then got elected with 90% of the vote, that doesn't

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seem at all bazaar, does it? But he and Putin have repeatedly abused

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human rights, they have used violence to excess and have always

:18:33.:18:36.

resorted to violence when there is another opportunity providing a

:18:37.:18:41.

peaceful means, so how do we, and will the Government make sure, that

:18:42.:18:44.

people who are engaged in this kind of activity and those involved in

:18:45.:18:49.

the murder of British people working in Russia, will not be entering this

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country? I think an 80-year-old activist gives all of us a bit of

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hope in this world. Not long now, Alan! Having just turned 60,

:19:05.:19:12.

although I know I don't look it, I heard from behind the... Oh, yes, I

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did! Much more seriously, what the honourable gentleman says is

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absolutely right, this is part of a wider picture across Russia

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although, I again say, I think Chechnya does appear to be the worst

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example and I think that within the constraints of being able to

:19:32.:19:36.

influence what happens in any other country, we have to speak loudly,

:19:37.:19:40.

speak collectively, be brave and courageous and at a diplomatic

:19:41.:19:44.

level, within the country, we will do our utmost to put pressure on the

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regime to understand that in the modern world, this kind of activity

:19:49.:19:52.

is barbaric and is no longer part of the world in which any country

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should be allowed to live. If memory serves, the Right Honourable's

:19:59.:20:02.

gentleman's birthday was 20 days ago. Can I start by thanking the

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Minister for the various matter forceful statement he has made

:20:09.:20:12.

today. I have written to the Russian ambassador and would like to echo

:20:13.:20:15.

the calls made by other members here today that the UK Government to call

:20:16.:20:19.

in the Russian ambassador and ask him in particular what they are

:20:20.:20:22.

going to do to protect the journalists involved in leaking this

:20:23.:20:25.

story, because clearly they are now at risk as well as the LGBT

:20:26.:20:30.

immunity? The final question I wanted to ask the Minister was

:20:31.:20:34.

weather since the G-7, where unfortunately our Government failed

:20:35.:20:40.

to secure sanctions against Syria and Russia, have any lessons been

:20:41.:20:43.

learned about how to improve cooperation so that at an

:20:44.:20:46.

international level, action will be taken against Chechnya? I think the

:20:47.:20:52.

right honourable gentleman has perhaps deviated slightly from the

:20:53.:20:57.

collective tone of the House this morning. As I think he will

:20:58.:21:01.

appreciate, what happened out of the G-7 was in response to fast-moving

:21:02.:21:06.

events following the gassing of people in Syria. As I said the

:21:07.:21:10.

moment ago and I say it again, on the issue of gay rights in Chechnya

:21:11.:21:14.

or indeed anywhere else across the world, we need to speak not only as

:21:15.:21:18.

one voice in this House but by working together with other

:21:19.:21:23.

countries and with NGOs to make sure that the world collectively hones in

:21:24.:21:26.

on the likes of Chechnya and Russia more generally to make them clear

:21:27.:21:32.

that they are out of step with the rest of the world and overtime will

:21:33.:21:35.

lose all credibility and become increasingly derided and it is high

:21:36.:21:39.

time they just grew up and understand what the modern world is

:21:40.:21:45.

all about. Can I congratulate my constituency neighbour for exposing

:21:46.:21:52.

the latest manifestation of the barbaric treatment that the people

:21:53.:21:58.

of Chechnya have had for a decade and pay tribute to Lord Frank Judd,

:21:59.:22:02.

who acted as the wrapper two over many years for the Council of Europe

:22:03.:22:06.

and reported fearlessly on the terrible things that were happening

:22:07.:22:11.

there. I think one would reflect on this now and we entirely support the

:22:12.:22:15.

opposition that should be worldwide to this terrible activity, and this

:22:16.:22:21.

is spreading. And one of the reasons for it is the pressure on countries

:22:22.:22:27.

to improve the human rights is now less because they don't have the

:22:28.:22:32.

incentive of joining together in the European Union, that demanded these

:22:33.:22:37.

high standards, and we are sadly going back into barbaric treatments,

:22:38.:22:41.

not just in Chechnya, but many other countries, including Turkey. I will

:22:42.:22:48.

join the honourable gentleman in paying tribute to the noble Lord

:22:49.:22:52.

Paul Judd for all of his efforts over the years but I say again, it

:22:53.:22:57.

is for all of us to work effectively across parties, across countries,

:22:58.:23:00.

parties and all organisations to make sure that simple rides the

:23:01.:23:06.

people -- writes for people that should not be denied to them are

:23:07.:23:09.

upheld across the world. Considering how this may be misrepresented

:23:10.:23:17.

abroad, particularly in Russia, is it not important to emphasise that

:23:18.:23:20.

this is first and foremost a matter of human rights and is certainly not

:23:21.:23:25.

a matter confined only to those who happen to be gay. And is it not

:23:26.:23:31.

interested, Mr Speaker, that this is being discussed 50 years since the

:23:32.:23:37.

House of Commons changed the law on homosexuality and if there is a

:23:38.:23:44.

debate in July, near the actual date when the legislation was passed, I

:23:45.:23:49.

would hope to be here, certainly I will do my utmost to be here, to

:23:50.:23:53.

explain why I was pleased to vote for the change in law. I think I'm

:23:54.:23:57.

the only one out in the House who has remained. Like I say, the way he

:23:58.:24:04.

is going, he will be here and another 50 years vote time. -- here

:24:05.:24:13.

in another 50 years' time. But he makes a very valid point about the

:24:14.:24:16.

importance of promulgating the truth. When we stand up and hear

:24:17.:24:21.

absolute blatant propaganda, we should not shy away from robustly

:24:22.:24:28.

cantering lies of that sort and, for instance, Kadyrov's spokesman has

:24:29.:24:33.

called reports about persecution and murder absolute lies themselves and

:24:34.:24:37.

indeed, he added, as we heard earlier, there are no gay men in

:24:38.:24:43.

Chechnya and you cannot arrest or repressed people who just don't

:24:44.:24:48.

exist. And even worse, he went on to say that if they did exist, their

:24:49.:24:53.

own relatives would have sent them away from, I quote, "Where they

:24:54.:24:59.

could never return". And it is the use of language like that that

:25:00.:25:04.

appears to condone the outright murder of someone simply because of

:25:05.:25:09.

their sexual orientation, it is utterly unacceptable and condemns

:25:10.:25:12.

them in the eyes of the decent world. Thank you, Mr Speaker, I am

:25:13.:25:20.

delighted to speak in this debate and I also thank the deputy Foreign

:25:21.:25:24.

Minister for her statement. I have a concern, though, that not just as a

:25:25.:25:28.

member of the LGBT community, but also the broader sense of the

:25:29.:25:33.

social, economic and political impoverishment of what is Chechnya

:25:34.:25:38.

and its profound impact on all Chechen society, because whether we

:25:39.:25:42.

like it or not, Kadyrov has fundamental support, in some terms,

:25:43.:25:49.

of his nation, and the Russian Federation, so how we undermine that

:25:50.:25:53.

is also about investment and also about foreign aid in tackling human

:25:54.:26:01.

rights across the world. So will be debited Minister say here on the

:26:02.:26:06.

floor, fighting for LGBTI rides in places like Chechnya and others,

:26:07.:26:09.

that his foreign budget will not change after the general election?

:26:10.:26:15.

Well, I think we should all committed to fighting prejudice

:26:16.:26:18.

wherever we find it and I hope that when we stand in the election on

:26:19.:26:21.

June the 8th, that will be part of all of the views we hold as we

:26:22.:26:26.

present ourselves to the electorate. But the honourable gentleman

:26:27.:26:28.

actually raises a deeper point as well, which is that we need, as this

:26:29.:26:34.

has, to understand foreign affairs, to take an interest and to debate

:26:35.:26:38.

countries such as Chechnya so I hope that early in the next Parliament,

:26:39.:26:43.

that opportunity will present itself so the arguments we are hearing

:26:44.:26:46.

today can be made more loudly at a junior eight. This has rightly

:26:47.:26:52.

speaks with one voice in condemnation of these have borrowed

:26:53.:26:58.

hacks -- abhorrent acts in Cheshire. It is not the first on the Russian

:26:59.:27:01.

Government has been found wanting when it comes to human acts and it

:27:02.:27:07.

needs reminding of its obligations. What can we do to make sure other

:27:08.:27:11.

countries are similarly robust in explaining that to the Russian

:27:12.:27:15.

Government, not least because of how insecure those members of the LGBTI

:27:16.:27:17.

committee in Chechnya We work through every organisation

:27:18.:27:26.

and of course the United Nations more widely. , but because we do

:27:27.:27:32.

speak frankly, we have had a rather scratchy relationships with the

:27:33.:27:37.

Russians recently. But we will not shy away from raising these issues

:27:38.:27:40.

frankly and forcefully, and I can assure the honourable gentleman that

:27:41.:27:45.

we will maintain a policy of robust engagement with the Russians, and it

:27:46.:27:49.

will include matters of this sort when we do so. All of Glasgow weeps

:27:50.:27:59.

at this news, and when I return later this afternoon we will have a

:28:00.:28:02.

vigil in George Square with politicians, or 30 people,

:28:03.:28:09.

expressing their horror at what is happening. Can I disagree with some

:28:10.:28:12.

colleagues. I do not see the need for it to be escalated to the

:28:13.:28:17.

Foreign Secretary. I think the Minister is very capable, deeply

:28:18.:28:20.

thoughtful, but I would like to echo the comments made by my honourable

:28:21.:28:25.

friend from Livingston. Is it not time for us to join countries like

:28:26.:28:32.

Canada and having an envoy on LGBT rights, who reports directly to the

:28:33.:28:35.

Prime Minister, and I would also echo the point made by my honourable

:28:36.:28:38.

friend from Clydebank, does this not show, and also in terms of what the

:28:39.:28:44.

honourable gentleman said about the Commonwealth, it is not the time to

:28:45.:28:50.

cut it back -- cut back the foreign aid. I thank him for his kind words.

:28:51.:29:02.

And usually I have to say at this political burden period! I am

:29:03.:29:07.

contemplating putting it in quotation marks at my election

:29:08.:29:17.

address! I wouldn't do that! -- politically fervent period. Our

:29:18.:29:24.

policy on this is not for me to say. My personal observation are some a

:29:25.:29:32.

dedicated envoy is not as effective as having all ministers and members

:29:33.:29:36.

of Parliament doing it. Butterfat is in his manifesto, we will let the

:29:37.:29:45.

people decide. Deeply, -- briefly, can I congratulate him for raising

:29:46.:29:49.

this important point and human rights. But could I suggest a word

:29:50.:29:53.

of caution about any complacency on this? We have a united voice in this

:29:54.:29:59.

House of Commons, but we're travelling on an official visit --

:30:00.:30:06.

when I was travelling towards the east on an official visit, I was

:30:07.:30:18.

troubled by the attitudes of people beer, and I was in Austria. We saw

:30:19.:30:24.

some propaganda, and we should be on our guard whenever this kind of

:30:25.:30:32.

human rights abuse viewers at -- rears its ugly head. I think we

:30:33.:30:35.

should take that as serious words of wisdom from a serious member -- a

:30:36.:30:40.

senior member of this House. We need to make sure there are no dial

:30:41.:30:46.

YouTube views, and he is right to point out that Europe needs to be

:30:47.:30:49.

united if we're going to make our voice clear and resonant across the

:30:50.:30:58.

wider world. Having tabled an early day motion myself on this very

:30:59.:31:03.

subject earlier in the week, I am grateful to the honourable member

:31:04.:31:08.

for Cardiff South and Penarth for securing this question, and to you,

:31:09.:31:15.

Mr Speaker, for permitting it. Can we have assurances that members of

:31:16.:31:19.

the LGBT community will be granted asylum in the United Kingdom should

:31:20.:31:25.

be looked for refuge on our shores? I have to tell the honourable lady

:31:26.:31:32.

that that is by merrily Home Office matter, and a matter for asylum

:31:33.:31:40.

legislation. In February the Foreign Secretary announced a ?700 million

:31:41.:31:44.

empowerment fund to project soft power and human rights. How was this

:31:45.:31:50.

fund being used to promote equal rights campaigners and support civil

:31:51.:31:53.

society in Chechnya and elsewhere? Can I echo the points of my

:31:54.:31:59.

honourable friend as he has not yet voiced his commitment to the target,

:32:00.:32:04.

as this is precisely why the target is so important. He makes reference

:32:05.:32:12.

to the empowerment fund, and I understand bids are currently in

:32:13.:32:17.

play. With the election I would imagine that will be stalled

:32:18.:32:19.

slightly, but I'm confident that there will be programmes designed

:32:20.:32:22.

for the promotion of human rights in many of the countries of which the

:32:23.:32:26.

empowerment fund is directing its efforts. I wish to pay tribute to

:32:27.:32:38.

the amazing work of an organisation and Leeds who brought this to my

:32:39.:32:45.

attention. These abuses are are chilling. Can I as the Minister what

:32:46.:32:51.

discussions he has had with EU partners but also with the United

:32:52.:32:57.

Nations to look at an initiative to clearly seek to stamp out this sort

:32:58.:33:05.

of appalling persecution, wherever it may happen. These discussions

:33:06.:33:09.

take place on a regular basis in all the forums we are represented, and

:33:10.:33:15.

it is usually the UK in the lead in designing initiatives and

:33:16.:33:20.

statements, which I think would echo the opinions he has just stated. The

:33:21.:33:28.

appalling treatment LGBT people face in some countries abroad makes it

:33:29.:33:32.

all the more important that officials here making decisions on

:33:33.:33:39.

asylum cases get them 100% correct. Will he make representations that no

:33:40.:33:46.

asylum case should never be refused solely on the basis that a person

:33:47.:33:50.

can return home and hide their sexuality away? I will convey entire

:33:51.:34:00.

exchange to the Home Secretary. Order. Does it relate

:34:01.:34:11.

specifically... He's such a patient fellow, we can hear from him later.

:34:12.:34:15.

There will be some anticipation in the House over what he's planning to

:34:16.:34:24.

raise! Business question. Thank you. Could the Leader of the House give

:34:25.:34:27.

us the forthcoming business for next week? The business for next week

:34:28.:34:35.

will be as follows. Monday 24th of April, consideration of a business

:34:36.:34:41.

of the House motion followed by all stages of the Northern Ireland

:34:42.:34:44.

ministerial appointments and regional rates

:34:45.:34:45.