Grindr killer Stephen Port launches an appeal against his murder convictions

Stephen Port was sentenced to a whole life term for killing four gay men that he met on Grindr.

The chef and former escort was found guilty of the murders of Gabriel Kovari, Daniel Whitworth, Jack Taylor and Anthony Walgate. Port was also found guilty of four rapes, ten offences of administering a substance with intent and four sexual assaults.

“The defendant will die in prison,” said Mr Justice Openshaw in the Old Bailey when sentencing Port in 2016. BBC News reported at the time that when the judge announced that Port would never be released, cheers, clapping and shouting erupted from the public gallery, where many of the victims families had been for the duration of the trial.

It was confirmed earlier this week that Port had lodged an appeal against his murder convictions, but not those of his sexual offences. The Court of Appeal said that his appeal was in the early stages.

The appeals process means that an applicant needs to submit papers to a judge to review before an applicant can be given permission to continue. It is understood by the BBC that Port’s application has not yet been approved by a judge.

The families of the victims, who are currently crowdfunding for legal representation ahead of an upcoming inquest into the deaths, said that his appeal application “changes nothing.”

Following Port’s conviction, the Independent Police Complaints Commission began an investigation into the Metropolitan Police for failing to link the deaths sooner.

Seven of the 17 police officers who were interviewed have been served with gross misconduct notices, while the other ten  have been served with misconduct notices.

However, back in July the BBC reported that all but one of the officers who were being questioned refused to answer questions surrounding the case, instead giving “no comment” interviews. The officers did, however, provide written statements.

Related: BBC announce new drama based on the victims of Grindr killer Stephen Port

The post Grindr killer Stephen Port launches an appeal against his murder convictions appeared first on Gay Times.

Man who flipped off families of gay couple he killed says it was his “duty” to kill them

In 2010, Peter Avsenew shot Steven Adams and Kevin Powell at their Wilton Manors home, before proceeding to steal their money, belongings and car.

Back in January, there was a court hearing over whether Peter Avsenew should be sentenced to death for the crime, the jury unanimously decided that he should be. After the hearing,  footage from ABC 10 showed him flipping off his victims’ families.

Speaking at the time, Marci Craig, a sister of one of the victims, said: “In my heart of hearts, I knew that he was making that gesture to us, and then he admitted that he made the gesture to our family.”

Speaking at the hearing, Avsenew said: “I have no regrets in my life and I am proud of the decisions I’ve made. No one really knows what happened that day. You would need a Ouija board for that.

“Everyone can speculate what ifs and maybes until they’re blue in the face, which they’ll never really know.”

Earlier this week, Circuit Judge Ilona Holmes had the option to overturn the jury’s decision, however she agreed to carry it.

And now, a hand-written letter that was sent to the judge has emerged showing Avsenew’s lack of remorse over the killings. In it, he wrote: “It is my duty as a white man to cull the weak and timid from existence.

“I will always stand up for what I believe in and eradicate anything in my way. Homosexuals are a disgrace to mankind and must be put down. These weren’t the first and won’t be the last.”

NBC News reports that a further line of his letter said: “If you only knew how many there really are you would faint.”

The post Man who flipped off families of gay couple he killed says it was his “duty” to kill them appeared first on Gay Times.

Russia criticised by 15 countries for its “inadequate” response to Chechnya’s anti-gay purge

Reports of an anti-gay purge first surfaced in the Chechnya region of Russia last year.

The purge drew international condemnation, and Russia was forced to launch an investigation into it. However, in May their investigation claimed to have found no evidence of LGBTQ people existing in the region. This is despite LGBTQ refugees from the area fleeing to Canada and France and some victims of the purge recalling the horrific torture they underwent.

Speaking to the United Nations, Alexander Konovalov said: “The investigations that we carried out did not confirm evidence of rights’ violations, nor were we even able to find representatives of the LGBT community in Chechnya.”

Now, the Organization for Security and Co-Operation in Europe, something Russia is a member of, has condemned the findings of Russia’s investigation.

And 15 member states have signed a statement triggering the organisation’s rarely used ‘Vienna Mechanism’, which in turn triggers a procedure which questions another member state on serious human rights violations.

The 15 member states who triggered the Vienna Mechanism are Canada, Denmark, Estonia, Finland, France, Germany, Iceland, Ireland, Latvia, Lithuania, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Related: A year after the anti-gay purge in Chechnya, here’s what you can do to help

In their statement, which can be read in full here, they say: “Our countries continue to be deeply concerned about serious human rights violations and abuses in Chechnya.

“Numerous credible reports by media and civil society organizations over the past 20 months have alleged worrying actions taken by Chechen authorities against persons based on their perceived or actual sexual orientation or gender identity, as well as human right defenders, lawyers, independent media, civil society organizations, and others.

“These actions include harassment and persecution, arbitrary or unlawful arrests or detention, torture, enforced disappearances and extrajudicial executions. The Russian Federation’s apparent unwillingness or inability to address these serious human rights violations has contributed to a climate of impunity for authorities in Chechnya in perpetrating such violations.

“Our delegations, as well as many others at the Permanent Council, have repeatedly raised concerns about these violations over the past 20 months.”

Related: We won’t forget Zelim Bakaev, the young singer who went missing in Chechnya

The statement then adds: “The Russian Federation’s response has been inadequate. Therefore, our countries are today invoking Russia’s commitments under the Vienna (Human Dimension) Mechanism to respond to our concerns.

“Furthermore, Chechen authorities have condoned violence against these individuals and reportedly encouraged families to commit ‘honor killings.’

“At the same time, journalists and human rights defenders face threats and reprisals by local Chechen authorities for documenting these and other violations and supporting the survivors.

“The Russian delegation has denied credible reports from international organizations, journalists and civil society, telling concerned delegations at the OSCEs to ‘get our facts straight’ and accusing us of spreading fake news from the Internet.”

The statement calls on Russia to answer several questions, including: “What steps have been taken by the federal authorities to ensure Chechen officials abide by the Russian Federation’s OSCE commitments?

“How have Russian federal authorities investigated allegations of violations and abuses reportedly committed against actual or perceived LGBTI persons, and how have they arrived at the conclusion (as repeated by Russian authorities) that no such violations or abuses have occurred and that no LGBTI persons exist in Chechnya?

“How have Russian federal authorities investigated the fate of each of the 27 individuals who were reportedly extrajudicially executed by Chechen authorities in Grozny in January 2017?”

The mechanism requires a response from Russia within 10 days.

Related: Gay men taken by authorities in Chechnya have ‘never been found’

The post Russia criticised by 15 countries for its “inadequate” response to Chechnya’s anti-gay purge appeared first on Gay Times.