Gay Men are being Rounded Up and Killed in Chechnya
Russian Republic of Chechnya has launched an alleged anti-gay campaign that has led to authorities rounding up dozens of men suspected of being homosexual, according to the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta and human rights activists.
More than 100 gay men have been detained and at least three are reported to have been killed by authorities in Chechnya, according to a Russian newspaper cited Saturday in The New York Times.
Alvi Karimov, spokesperson for Chechnya’s leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, described the report as “absolute lies and disinformation” because according to Mr. Karimov; “You cannot detain and persecute people who simply do not exist in the republic,” he told Interfax news agency. “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.”
This anti-gay attack is alleged to have been launched in response to Moscow-based gay rights group, GayRussia.ru, applying for permits to stage gay pride parades in four cities in Russia’s predominantly Muslim North Caucasus region, of which Chechnya is a part.
According to a New York Times report; The group had been applying for permits for gay parades in provincial cities around Russia, and collecting the inevitable denials, in order to build a case about gay rights and freedom of assembly with the European Court of Human Rights, in Strasbourg, France. It had applied to more than 90 municipal governments. Nikolai Alekseev, a gay rights activist coordinating this effort, told Novaya Gazeta he had chosen this tactic rather than staging risky, unsanctioned gay parades.
Novaya Gazta’s report claims that the group had not applied for a permit in Chechnya, but in another Muslim region in southern Russia, Kabardino-Balkaria. The mere application there had prompted an anti-gay counterdemonstration. Nikolai Alekseev told Novaya Gazeta that by filing applications for parades in various regions of Russia, he is fighting for their constitutional rights of freedom of assembly and the abolition of the law banning gay propaganda.
According to The Guardian; “Chechnya is formally part of Russia, but functions as a quasi-independent state in which the word of Kadyrov often seems to transcend Russian laws. He has overseen the rebuilding of the republic with Moscow’s money, after two devastating wars. Kadyrov has at various times endorsed polygamy, compulsory wearing of the hijab for women in public places, and collective punishment for the relatives of those involved in the Islamist underground.
Chechen society is strictly conservative, meaning that unlike other cases where relatives or rights activists may put pressure on authorities when a homosexual relative disappears, those suspected are likely to be disowned by their own families. Locals say that if a family was known to have a gay member, other relatives would find it difficult to marry due to the “shame”.