The reports of the activists: On 14 January, the Russian LGBT Network, a non-governmental LGBT rights organization working for the social acceptance and protection of the LGBT people in Russia, stated that there has been a new crackdown against gay people in Chechnya. Their statement has been reported by several major news broadcasters and newspapers, including the CNN, BBC and The Guardian. The Russian LGBT Network believes that about 40 people have been imprisoned since December 2018 – and that two of them died under torture. Activists affirmed that the people arrested are currently detained in a semi-legal facility near Argun - a town 20km from the city of Grozny. The government spokesman has dismissed their latest report as "complete lies". 

Fig. 1: The LGBT flag

A history of discrimination started in 2013: If confirmed, these events will follow another report about brutal attacks on gay men and women in Chechnya in 2017, when hundreds of men were allegedly held and tortured in detention. The suspicions about the government and its violence led to international outrage and sanctions against the region’s leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, who denied issuing an order for the crackdown. In late 2017, Kadyrov was targeted by the US Magnitsky Act for supporting “extrajudicial killings” and an “anti-gay purge”. The Act, also known as the Russia and Moldova Jackson–Vanik Repeal and Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act of 2012, authorizes the US government to sanction human rights offenders, freezing their assets, and ban them from entering the American soil. 
The violations in Russia throughout the years are said to have been sparked by a "gay propaganda" measure signed by President Putin in 2013 into federal law. Human Rights Watch said it had "a deeply damaging effect on LGBT children" and "contributed to an intensification of stigma, harassment, and violence against LGBT people in Russia." The discriminations following Putin’s signature led the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe to publish, in December 2018, a report documenting wide scale rights violations in Chechnya. Condemning the extrajudicial arrests, torture and killing of LGBT+ people, the report is now opening up the possibility of future prosecutions in the International Criminal Court. 

Giulia Mizzon 


· The Russian LGBT Network is the front line of efforts to protect at-risk Chechens. The group provides psychological support and organises evacuation to safer Russian regions and abroad. 

· Read this article if you are interested and want to know more. 


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