Anger is growing within the LGBT community over reports of Chechnya’s elimination of gay men. Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta claims that gay men are being rounded up in a bid to reinforce the deeply conservative republic’s no-tolerance stance. Novaya Gazeta’s claims of men being held and brutalised in camps suggest chilling similarities to the persecution of homosexuals during the Holocaust. The newspaper states that its story has been confirmed by government and police officials in Chechnya, however, Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov’s spokesman, Ali Karimov, has announced that the alleged purge is nonsensical. He claims this is because there are already no homosexuals to be found in the region – “If such people existed in Chechnya, law enforcement would not have to worry about them, as their own relatives would have sent them to where they could never return.” Karimov’s statement provides an unintentional insight into his society’s attitudes towards the LGBT community. Amnesty International is encouraging people to join forces to protest.
Chechnya is a society built upon religion, conformity and obedience. Ramzan Kadyrov, the Chechan ruler, has created an environment in which being different is a form of punishable rebellion. Men and women are obliged to conform to gender stereotypes. Men are expected to be strong, stoic fighters. Women are seen as the ‘lesser’ sex. To suggest a man has any feminine traits is to insult him at the highest level.
With no legislation in place to protect individuals from persecution, Chechnya’s most powerful establishments are free to promote homophobia. Tragically, it has been reported that the alleged planned purging of gay men is in direct response to an application for a gay rights march in the capital of Grozny.
Amnesty International is asking people outside of Chechnya to protest by joining the charity’s Urgent Action on Chechnya.
The action encourages people to write to Chairman of the Investigation Committee and Acting Head of the Investigation Committee for the Chechen Republic, asking for an investigation and appeal for protection for LGBT individuals. The charity asks that letters are copied to Human Rights groups and diplomatic missions from your country.