Earlier this month, the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported that over 100 men suspected of being gay have been arbitrarily detained and tortured in the southern Russian republic of Chechnya. Three deaths have been reported, and the Russian LGBT Network and other sources on the ground continue to report about detainees being coerced to reveal the identities of other gay and bisexual men.
Gay men who are released from detention at risk of so-called “honor killings” by family members, while local authorities deny the existence of gay people and national authorities are indifferent. Journalists who broke the story at Novaya Gazeta have even been threatened by local religious leaders. Despite statements of condemnation from five experts at the United Nations Human Rights Council and several foreign ministries including the United States, Canada, the European Union and others, no action has been taken to end the abuse.
MSMGF condemns the State-sanctioned violence facing Russia’s gay and bisexual men, and stands in solidarity with global efforts to hold Russia accountable. While shocking, the unfolding situation in Chechnya exists in a larger, long-standing pattern of exclusion, discrimination, and violence against LGBT people in Russia, throughout central and eastern Europe, and across the globe. Executive Director George Ayala said,
“State-sanctioned violence against LGBT people has become all too common in a conservatized world. Populist movements in Europe and the U.S. have emboldened countries like Russia to despicably and insidiously abuse human rights. LGBT people become easy political targets when corrupt governments operate with impunity.”
Violations such as these not only instill fear among a generation of LGBT people in Russia and throughout the region, but also gravely endanger gay and bisexual men’s confidence in health systems to access necessary prevention, treatment, care, and support for HIV and other services. Data from the Global Men’s Health and Rights survey clearly illustrates the impact of violence on life-saving HIV services, as illustrated in MSMGF’s 2015 report, report, Services Under Siege: The Impact of Anti-LGBT Violence on HIV Programs.
MSMGF will continue to monitor the situation in Chechnya. Our response has been informed by our partners on the ground, who have implored us to consult with and to honor the wishes of local activists and organizations directly impacted by this crisis. We are repulsed by all forms of violence and abuse, and we will work with civil society, governments, and multilateral agencies to ensure that all people can live their lives in dignity and without fear.
WHAT YOU CAN DO
- Donate to support the Russian LGBT Network so that survivors can receive vital services and assistance:
- Sign petitions created by AllOut, Amnesty International, and Avaaz to demand justice for the Chechen 100.
- Join OutRight Action in pressuring oil companies with interests in Russia to speak out against the violence.
- Tell your elected representatives that this situation concerns you, and demand that they speak out on behalf of gay and bisexual men in Chechnya.
IF YOU HAVE FURTHER INFORMATION ABOUT THE SITUATION IN CHECHNYA
- The Russian LGBT Network can be called for free if you are located in Russia – 8 800 555 73 74.
- Anyone outside Russia with information they would like to share on the current situation in Chechnya can also confidentially contact ILGA-Europe, a nonprofit organization that is following the situation closely and in-contact with organizations in the region:
Featured Photo: “LGBT” by Evgeniy Isaev used under CCBY