For nearly a year, the semi-autonomous Russian Republic of Chechnya has led a campaign of kidnapping, torture and murder of LGBTQ people. For months the republic denied this ‘queer purge,’ but witnesses of Chechen horrors have since stepped forward to share their horrific stories.
A 31-page report released by the Russian LGBT Network in August stated, “Despite the fact that Russia is commonly defined as a society with high levels of homophobia … [the anti-LGBTQ purge in Chechnya] is an unprecedented act of mass violence towards LGBT people in … the Russian Federation.”
Nowhere has been safe for LGBTQ people in Chechnya since the campaign began, and authorities are using roadside stops, home raids and workplace visits to round up queer men. Once in custody, these men are typically beaten, tortured, starved, stripped nude and forced to give up the names of others. It’s truly horrifying.
On Nov. 1, the U.S. Senate finally condemned Chechnya’s anti-LGBTQ purge with a unanimous resolution. It called on Chechen officials “to immediately cease the abduction, detention and torture of individuals on the basis of their actual or suspected sexual orientation, and hold accountable all those involved in perpetrating such abuses.” Still no word from President Donald Trump, though.
Following this horrific news out of Chechnya, LGBT and human rights activists and organizations quickly mobilized to respond to reports of LGBTQ men being arrested, tortured and imprisoned by Chechen citizens and government. Hornet worked in partnership with various regional and global human rights organizations to ensure that our community of users in that region had access to information and resources.
Hornet sent out a number of broadcast messages to men in the area, providing information about the Russian LGBT Network, efforts around evacuation and how to report human rights violations. Partnering with advocacy group Alturi, we helped raise funds for the Russian LGBT Network as well.
We also drafted a Know Your Rights fact sheet in Russian and Chechen, which was then distributed to men in the region. It provided helpful travel tips when crossing international borders, statistics (and a map) of criminalized homosexuality around the world and how someone can report human rights violations against themselves.
Below is Hornet’s Know Your Rights fact sheet in Chechen. Click here for the English version.
To this day, Hornet is continuing to work with the Russian LGBT Network and ILGA Europe to assist LGBTQ men who are still in Chechnya and in need of information and resources.
To date, over 70 men have been evacuated from Chechnya due to the efforts of the Russian LGBT Network. These men have found refuge in France, Argentina and Lithuania.
“LGBTQ rights are human rights, and they must be protected and defended,” says Alex Garner, Hornet’s Senior Health Innovation Strategist. “Gay men who are enduring oppression and violence in Chechnya need to know that they are not alone, that what is occurring is unjust and that Hornet, in partnership with NGOs, will continue to provide them with information and resources and defend their fundamental human rights.”
Hornet is determined to meet the atrocities of Chechen oppression with assistance and affirmation for our LGBTQ brothers and sisters.
Featured image via Getty Images