According to Russian human rights groups, over 100 men have been tortured in Chechnya solely for being gay.
Victims who have escaped persecution in Chechnya spoke to Shaun Walker of The Guardian, detailing the horror of their experiences. The story was first broken by Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, who have reported that at least three gay men have been killed by Chechen authorities.
Chechen society is hyper-conservative, and extremely homophobic. There is fear that some gay men have been killed by their own families after being outed by authorities. Reportedly, gay men are rounded up and tortured with beatings and electric shock, forced to point out other gay men in their contact list. One of the men who spoke to The Guardian, explained how some men are used in set-ups to identify and capture other gay men.
Chechnya’s Moscow-backed local leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, pledges allegiance to Putin. In exchange, the Kremlin ignores any and all human rights violations that the Chechen authorities commit. Kadyrov’s spokesman, Alvi Karimov, has called the reported homophobic persecution “absolute lies and disinformation.” Karimov insists these accusations are impossible because, officially, gay people do not exist in Chechnya.
He said “You cannot detain and persecute people who simply do not exist in the republic,” adding “If there were such people in Chechnya, the law-enforcement organs wouldn’t need to have anything to do with them because their relatives would send them somewhere from which there is no returning.”
Human rights activists are attempting to help dozens of gay Chechens flee from Russia, as they are not even safe with their families, and especially with authorities.
[via The Guardian]