Earlier this month, Russian resistance newspaper Novaya Gazeta reported the Chechnya government was rounding up gay men holocaust-style, complete with concentration camps, torture…you know, everything you need to be an asshole dictator. This torturous shit began after a gay rights organization applied for permits to hold a Gay Pride event in the predominately Muslim region of North Caucaus. Chechen officials then began using the Russian equivalent of Grindr and, in some cases, people’s own fucking friends and families, to lure unsuspecting gay men out where they are beaten and thrown into cells where they were starved and tortured into giving up the names of other gay men. In some cases, people died. When pressed on their torturous bullshit, a spokesman for Chechnya’s leader, Ramzan Kadyrov essentially said “No queers here!”
“You cannot arrest or repress people who just don’t exist in the republic. If such people existed in Chechnya, law enforcement would not have to worry about them, as their own families would have sent them to where they could never return.”
Two men have already died from these “honor killings”—that is, when the fam tries to keep up appearances by offing one of their own for certain sexual proclivities—most commonly women. And since there aren’t any queers to be seen in this region, it won’t take Mister Kadyrov any time to rid the region of the gays by Ramadan, which he recently vowed to do.
While Russian and Chechen officials keep insinuating it is Islam that has Kadyrov towing the “morality” line, Ukraine journalist Maxim Eristavi explained to NBC News that “What is happening right now with gay men is part of a longtime practice of state violence towards dissenting voices in Chechnya,” who also have “one of the worst human rights records of all Russian regions.” Eristavi went on to explain:
“It’s not helpful to look at this through just the lenses of religion or culture or regionality. It’s a state-sponsored campaign of violence supported by the Kremlin.”
This campaign of violence has been seen throughout Russia since 2013 when Donald Trump’s not-so-secret man-crush Vladamir Putin essentially made it illegal to be out in Russia. Since then Russia has seen a spike in homophobic violence that puts LGBTQ people in the region in some serious shit. More than 90% of Russiansthink homosexuality is wrong, something we Americans find difficult to wrap our heads around since more than 55% of us support gay marriage. Unfortunately, Russia is the only place many queer Chechens can go for refuge. The Russian LGBT Network has opened a center in Moscow as well as a 24-Hour hotline to assist gay men seeking refuge. The problem is there is an air of paranoia perpetuated by the government in Chechnya, and gay people don’t know who to trust. According to Elena Kostyuchenko:
“We must understand that the LGBT community in Chechnya and in the North Caucasus is generally absolutely closed – they are basically intimidated [and] do not trust anyone…They are used to being last grade people. This thought has been inculcated in them [and] they believe it. And it is hard for them to imagine that someone cares about them [and] wants to save their lives.”
As queer people and allies in America, reports like the ones coming out of Chechnya hit hard. It is easy to feel helpless, or to dismiss the claims entirely. But if Donald Trump’s administration has proven anything it is that we can be a scrappy bunch when we are pissed off. That is why I’m encouraging folks to give to the Russian LGBT Network, the organization helping to evacuate gay men out of Chechnya. If you can’t donate money, donate time. Up the pressure on DJT and his boyfriend’s blatant human rights violations in Russia. Or, if you want to go straight to the source, hit up instagram and tag Ramzan Kadyrov (@kadyrov_95) himself with photos that express how much of a homophobic d-bag he is. I may have to get an instagram just to flash Kadyrov the whitest part of my ass with the words STOP THIS SHIT written across it in big rainbow letters.
Well loves, that’s all I have for now. Until next time, keep resisting.