In the Chechen Republic, gay men are being assembled and thrown in prison camps, according to Human Rights Campaign. There they have endured torture and beatings, which even led to three alleged murders.
Chechnya leader Ramzan Kadyrov’s spokesperson, Alvi Karimov, denied the talk about the prison camps by claiming there are no homosexual people in Chechnya.
“You cannot arrest or repress people who just don’t exist in the republic,” he said, according to the New York Times. “If such people existed in Chechnya, law enforcement would not have to worry about them since their own relatives would have sent them to where they could never return.”
Svetlana Zakharova, from the Russian LGBT organization, said they are working on getting people evacuated from the camps and some have escaped and left the area. According to those who have escaped, men in the camps are tortured with electric currents and heavily beaten, says Zakharova.
A hotline has been set up by the Russian LGBT network, in which they claim to have received reports of the abuse happening inside the camps.
According to the Novaya Gazeta, a Russian opposition newspaper, the reason these men were arrested and imprisoned began when an LGBTQ rights group asked for permits for a pride parade. This was immediately denied.
GLAAD is the world’s LGBTQ advocacy program which is attempting to intervene and help. The United States ambassador, Nikki Haley, was called to condemn the attacks and supposed imprisonment of the targeted Chechen men.
"U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley must condemn this humanitarian crisis,” according Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of the GLAAD. “As the leader of the free world, we can’t watch in silence as the world slips back to an era we should never go back to.”
To help these suffering men, protests have been rightfully occurring. Many people gathered around the Russian Embassy with pink flowers and cardboard triangles, symbolizing the color associated with queer liberation. Crowds of people chanted “no human is illegal” on the streets outside of the embassy.
Sexual Avengers is a queer action group which was in support of the protests occurring in response to the prison camp allegations. A group member named Damien Arness Dalton told The Independent, “We will always face homophobia and it’s time we acted as a global community to ensure our voices are not silent. To think it could be any one of us in [those camps] breaks my heart. Our geographical privilege shouldn’t blind us to the sexual freedoms we enjoy – or our unity with those who do not.”
In 2014, the number of reported “single-bias hate crimes,” done with one motivation, was 5,462, an FBI report showed. Out of that total, 1,115 were motivated by feelings against one’s sexual orientation or identity. Although this is only a fifth of the total number, it’s far less than the amount that realistically occurs because hate crimes are difficult to gather. The collection of hate crimes relies solely on self-reporting, which usually rarely happens.
We need to come together to put an end to such hate. As Ellis said, we cannot fall back into a time where prison camps were an acceptable and common action taken by government. Riots and protests need to continue to take place to stop the brutality enforced upon LGBTQ members of our world.