Showing posts with label Gay Persecution. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Gay Persecution. Show all posts

January 22, 2019

Gay Community Helping to Evacuate Gay Men in The New Chechen Gay Purge


                       
 Anzor, a gay man who spoke to the Associated Press on condition that he not be further identified out of fear for his safety and that of his family from Chechnya, the predominantly Muslim region in southern Russia, April 28, 2017. LGBT activists said, Jan. 14, 2019, that at least two people have died and about 40 people detained in what has been described as a new crackdown on gay people in the Russian republic of Chechnya.
 Anzor, a gay man who spoke to the Associated Press on condition that he is not further identified out of fear for his safety and that of his family from Chechnya
                                  
By Moscow 




LGBT activists say they have begun helping people flee from the Russian republic of Chechnya amid what they claim is a new wave of detentions and torture targeting the gay community there.
The LGBT Network, a St. Petersburg-based rights group, said last week that 40 people had been detained and at least two were tortured to death in what they believe is a renewal of a campaign of terror that took place in 2017 and saw dozens of gay men kidnapped and tortured by Chechen security services.

Chechnya is a majority-Muslim autonomous republic in southern Russia, ruled by dictatorial leader Ramzan Kadyrov. In 2017, reports emerged that over 100 men suspected by authorities as gay had been rounded up and brutally tortured, setting off international condemnation and leading to U.S. sanctions against Kadyrov and some of his senior lieutenants.
 Ramzan Kadyrov, head of Russia's Chechen Republic, attends a ceremony at the Kremlin in Moscow, Oct. 5, 2017. 
(Anadolu Agency/Getty Images, FILE)  Ramzan Kadyrov, head of Russia's Chechen Republic, attends a ceremony at the Kremlin in Moscow, Oct. 5, 2017.
The LGBT Network said in a statement it believes a new campaign of persecution that began in early December is now underway. Novaya Gazeta, the newspaper which helped expose the 2017 campaign, has said its sources also suggest a new wave of detentions. 

Chechen authorities have denied the reports of the detentions, as they did in 2017. Chechnya’s minister of information, Dzhambulat Umarov last week called the allegations “utter crap” but then added homosexuality “has no place” in Chechnya. Kadyrov has previously said homosexuals don’t exist in Chechnya and said that if they do, they should leave "to purify our blood."

The LGBT Network said it helped dozens of men escape Chechnya in 2017 and 2018. In a statement on Monday, the organization said those fleeing this current purge have allowed them to build a clearer picture of the detentions and provided details of brutal treatment.

According to the group, both men and women have been swept up this time. They have described being beaten and raped using electro-shocker clubs. Men recounted being shaved, forced to wear women's clothing and to call each other by women's names, according to the group.

The organization said one detainee told them prisoners were being denied food and given dirty water after it had been used to wash the floor. The only drinking water they received was when it was time to pray, the group said.

The LGBT Network said it had now identified several sites where people were being held illegally, including a police station in Chechnya's capital, Grozny. According to the group, some of those seized are also being held in the town of Argun, which was one of the centers of the 2017 detentions.
The use of police stations, the activists said, was further evidence that the kidnappings were being carried out by members of Chechnya’s state security services.

Igor Kochetkov, LGBT Network's program director, said the group believes the new roundup began after police detained the administrator of a social media group popular among LGBT people in the North Caucasus. Security services officers then used the person's phone contacts to find new targets, according to Kochetkov.

The details being described now are similar to those from multiple testimonies from men in 2017 to news media and rights groups, which described kidnapping and torture.
A man who fled Chechnya after being tortured and then released in 2017 told ABC News then that he had been beaten with plastic rods and electrocuted. The man, who ABC News for his safety referred to by the pseudonym Dmitry, described being held in jail with several other men and hearing them scream as they were tortured.

"They split my eye, my lip, broke my ribs, they electrocuted me," he told ABC News in April 2017.
 Anzor, a gay man who spoke to the Associated Press on condition that he is not further identified out of fear for his safety and that of his family from Chechnya, the predominantly Muslim region in southern Russia, April 28, 2017. LGBT activists said, Jan. 14, 2019, that at least two people have died and about 40 people detained in what has been described as a new crackdown on gay people in the Russian republic of Chechnya. 
 Anzor, a gay man who spoke to the Associated Press on condition that he is not further identified out of fear for his safety and that of his family from Chechnya, the predominantly Muslim region in southern Russia, April 28, 2017. LGBT activists said, Jan. 14, 2019, that at least two people have died and about 40 people detained in what has been described as a new crackdown on gay people in the Russian republic of Chechnya. ...+

He also described being denied food and provided with water only around prayer-times.
With the reports of new detentions, activists have blamed Russian federal authorities, saying they have failed to intervene and given Chechen authorities free rein to continue the persecution. In 2017, after heavy international condemnation, Russia launched a probe into the reports of abuses, but the investigation has since gone nowhere. Activists demanding that police act were detained in Moscow.

A report from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) released in December found that kidnapping, torture and extrajudicial killings were regularly used by Chechen security forces and that the LGBT community had been targeted in “successive purges.” It found that there had been three “waves” of detentions beginning from December 2016 and until summer 2017, and noting new cases had continued into the fall.
The report criticized Russia, saying “Russian authorities responsible for investigating alleged crimes against LGBTI citizens persecuted in Chechnya appear not to have lived up to their responsibilities.”
The U.S. State Department last week said it was "deeply disturbed" by the news reports, calling them "credible." In a statement, it called on Russia to "live up to its international obligations" and "its own constitution." 

Public attitudes toward homosexuality in Chechnya are very conservative and the gay community is obliged to meet largely in secret, fearing violence even from their families. The anti-gay campaigns in the republic have emerged against a backdrop of broader efforts in Russia to stoke homophobic sentiment, as the Kremlin has promoted what it calls traditional values and painted homosexuality as a primarily Western phenomenon, linked to democracy and human rights.

Chechnya's minister for information, Dzhambulat Umarov, suggested to Radio Free Europe last week that he believed homosexuality was being imposed from outside.

“Don’t sow the seeds of sodomy in the blessed land of the Caucasus,” Umarov told Radio Free Europe. “They will not grow,” unlike in “perverted Europe,” he said.

The LBGT Network said it has helped get 150 men to get out of Chechnya since March 2017, sheltering them in houses and assisting them with finding asylum. The Rainbow Railroad, a Canadian LGBTQI rights group, said it helped bring 57 people from Chechnya to Canada following the 2017 campaign.

In 2017, Dmitry who wanted to find asylum abroad told ABC News he was terrified that Chechen security forces might find him if he stayed in Russia.
"They have very long arms and they will hound us," Dmitry said in 2017. "I have to get out of here."


Couple Attacked and Targeted as Gay in Austin






A photo of Tristan Perry in the hospital after he says he and his boyfriend were attacked along Red River Street for holding hands. (Photo Courtesy Spencer Deehring).  
Video

By:  

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AUSTIN (KXAN) —  A gay couple in Austin say they were the target of a homophobic slur, then attacked in downtown Austin in the early hours of Saturday morning. Both were hospitalized for their injuries.

Spencer Deehring and Tristan Perry say they love holding hands with each other and being affectionate. A friend had a birthday party Friday night, so the couple and their friends went to several bars downtown to celebrate. The two say they only had two drinks early on in the night and drove downtown so they wanted to make sure they were sober by the time the night was over.

The two were walking out from Rain nightclub on 4th Street at around 2:45 a.m.

Because of the head trauma he sustained, Perry doesn't remember any of what happened next.

Deehring believes that they were walking near 7th Street and Red River Street (though he says it's possible they could have been a block or two away from that point) when a man walked past them and said a homophobic slur to them.

"I hate that word," Perry interjected. "I'm not going to have someone walk all over me, but that also doesn't warrant getting punched in the face or having a broken nose."

Deehring recalls making a retort back to the man, saying something like "I'm sorry I couldn't hear you."

Then he said that man called over to his group of friends who were out of sight, motioned for them to come over, and within a few seconds, the group was following Deehring and Perry as they walked to their car.

"They started following behind us pretty closely yelling every expletive you can think of," Deehring said. "The last thing I said to one of the guys before they attacked both of us was like, 'I don't have anything more to say to you guys, we're just going home, leave us alone.'"

That's when Deehring said one of the men punched Perry in the face, breaking his nose and causing him to fall to his knees. Next, he recalls two other men stepped in and hit Perry again until he was laying on the ground. Then, Deehring said another man kicked Perry in the back of the head.

Deehring said he immediately tried to tackle the men who were attacking his boyfriend.

"That was my first reaction, was to stop them from kicking him because he couldn't receive one more blow to the head or he may well have been dead," he said.

But Deehring said he was knocked unconscious by the men punching him.

A bystander called 911 and waited there until police and EMS arrived, which Deehring estimates took more than 20 minutes. Both Deehring and Perry were hospitalized.

"If the bystander had not been there [the attackers] may have continued, it may have been much worse," Deehring said.

The couple believes that their attackers were set off by seeing them holding hands.


Perry has a laceration on the back of his head, his nose is broken,  he has swelling in his face up to his cheekbones, his lip is busted, his teeth are chipped, he has neck and upper back pain and his memory has some lapses.

Perry was planning to take the state board exam for his cosmetology license this week, now he fears he will have to delay it. He was rehospitalized Sunday morning after his bleeding continued and symptoms persisted but he has since been discharged.

Deehring has swelling to his mouth and jaw as well as lacerations on his forehead that required skin glue. He also thinks he has bruising from blows to the back of his head and neck.

Both Perry and Deehring have difficulty chewing and are experiencing pain.

"It shouldn't happen to anyone else, and it breaks my heart that it's probably going to [keep happening] until these guys are caught," Perry said.


"Living in Corpus Christi and moving to Austin,  I thought, 'Oh everyone is going to be so open-minded,'" Perry said. "I think that a lot of people think that and it's overlooked that this could happen to anybody, anywhere, anytime."

             




A photo of Tristan Perry in the hospital, he says he and his boyfriend were attacked while holding hands in downtown Austin. Photo Courtesy Spencer Deehring. 
Anna Nguyen, the president of the Austin chapter of PFLAG, told KXAN Sunday she sees this attack as "alarming."

In her 26 years living in Austin, she recalls many attacks on LGBTQIA individuals.

"But it feels as if lately the frequency has ratcheted up quite a bit," she said.

"I think Austin as a community needs to step up its game and prove its one of the most LGBTQIA friendly cities in the country by deeds and not just by words," she said.

She hopes that APD can quickly make headway on finding the person who attacked Perry and Deehring. Nguyen added that in the meantime there are many LGBTQIA groups in Austin that victims of attacks can turn to for support. The couple says they have filed a police report and KXAN is waiting to hear back from Austin police and Austin-Travis County EMS for their records on the case.

In the last few months KXAN has spoken with Austin Police several times about the crimes they see downtown, Assistant Chief Justin Newsom told KXAN that the most common type of calls APD officers responds to downtown are "disturbances" or fights. He estimates around one happens every day and that these calls often involve people who are intoxicated. Newsom told KXAN in December and Austin Police Association President Ken Casaday reiterated in January that they feel more officers are needed to meet the growing number of demands downtown.

While Perry and Deehring wait to hear from an APD detective, they are trying to encourage others to be cautious when out at night and not to travel alone.

"If he wasn't there I don't know that I would still be here today," Perry said looking at Deehring.

They decided to share what happened to them over Facebook for the benefit of others who may have gone through something similar but might not feel comfortable talking about it.

"We want people to understand that it is possible for this to happen, it's not something where you could say its 2019, this doesn't happen anymore, we are living proof of it," Deehring said.

Deehring explained that in sharing about this attack, he also came out to his loved ones about his sexuality. Both he and his boyfriend said they were grateful for the outpouring of support they've received since.

They have a message they want to share:

"Spread love, end all this hatred, end all this closed-mindedness always watch your surroundings, always be aware of your surroundings, don't walk alone," Perry said.

"Be aware of your surroundings, but don't change who you are as a person, don't ever change who you are as a person and don't be afraid to go out there and explore the world, just as you are," Deehring said. "We're gonna do that too."

The couple explained that while this attack has rocked them, they plan to continue going out in public and being affectionate in public.

They have created a GoFundMe page for their medical expenses, which you can find here.

photo
A photo of Tristan Perry and Spencer Deehring. Photo Courtesy Spencer Deehring.
Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

January 12, 2019

Some Gay Men and Women Detained in Chechnya



MOSCOW — 
Several people have been recently detained in Russia's Chechnya region on suspicion of being gay, in a throwback to an earlier crackdown, activists said on Friday.
The reports come a year and a half after more than 100 gay men in Chechnya were arrested and subjected to torture, and some of them were killed, according to activists. Chechen authorities never admitted their role in the well-documented abuse, and federal authorities conducted a probe that did not produce any findings to back up the reports. 
 Independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, which broke the news of the crackdown in 2017, earlier on Friday reported renewed persecutions of gay people in Chechnya.
'I Want Justice': Victim of Chechnya's 'Hunt for Gays' Comes Forward 
Russian authorities kept denying that the killings and torture took place in the predominantly Muslim region where homosexuality is a taboo, even after one man came forward to talk about the time he spent in detention in Chechnya. 
 Maxim Lapunov said he was detained by unidentified people on a street in the Chechen capital, Grozny, and kept in custody for two weeks, where he was repeatedly beaten. He was let go after he signed a statement acknowledging he was gay and was told he would be killed if he talked about his time in detention.
Lapunov, who is not an ethnic Chechen and who hails from Siberia, was the first to file a complaint with Russian authorities over the wave of arrests of gay people.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe last month called on Russia to investigate the reports, and Lapunov's case specifically.
AP

November 2, 2018

Tanzania Putting Out Surveillance Squads to Hunt Down Gays




President Magufuli said that a list of 200 suspects had already been drawn up thanks to public tip offs
President Magufuli said that a list of 200 suspects had already been drawn up thanks to public tip-offs CREDIT:  THOMAS MUKOYA/ REUTERS
Residents in Tanzania’s biggest city have been urged to inform on neighbors and friends ahead of a police operation to hunt down and jail homosexuals.
A 17-member committee appointed by Paul Makonda, Dar es Salaam’s powerful regional commissioner, will attempt to identify all gay men living in the coastal city after it first convenes next Monday.
Mr Makonda, a close ally of Tanzania’s president, John Magufuli, said that a list of 200 suspects had already been drawn up thanks to public tip-offs and a trawl through Tanzanians’ social media accounts.
“I have information about the presence of many homosexuals in our province,” he told reporters. “These homosexuals boast on social networks. Give me their names. My ad hoc team will begin to get their hands on them next Monday.”

Homosexuality is not strictly illegal in Tanzania. Sodomy, however, carries a sentence of between 30 years and life in prison, while other sexual acts between consenting men also carry jail terms.
Tanzania was seen until recently as more tolerant of homosexuals than neighboring countries, but the atmosphere has chilled since Mr. Magufuli became president in 2015. Last year he announced the closure of AIDS clinics after accusing them of promoting homosexuality. 
Mr. Makonda, a devout Christian who has long railed against gay Tanzanians, is one of the country’s most powerful figures and is viewed as increasingly untouchable.
Last year he stormed a private television station at the head of a group of armed officers after it declined to broadcast material allegedly incriminating one of his critics in an affair. President Magufuli then sacked the information minister for investigating the raid.
Mr. Makonda has also used his role as the government’s chief representative in Dar es Salaam to champion a clampdown on free speech, instructing police to arrest anyone who “insults” political leaders.
Acknowledging the potential for a backlash from the West if homosexuals are detained en masse, Mr. Makonda said: “I prefer to anger these countries than to anger God.”
Britain, which will give Tanzania £153m in direct aid this year, is one of Tanzania’s largest bilateral donors.
The clampdown comes after the arrest on Thursday of Zitto Kabwe, arguably the country’s best-known opposition leader, after he accused security forces of killing as many as 100 people in clashes with cattle herders in Tanzania’s west. Mr. Kabwe was denied bail and is being held in custody.

August 17, 2018

Man’s application rejected as authorities say he did not walk, dress or act like he was gay


 Refugees, mostly from Syria and Afghanistan, at the Westbahnhof train station in Vienna in September 2015. Photograph:   Christoph Schlessmann/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
Refugees, mostly from Syria and Afghanistan, at the Westbahnhof train station in Vienna in September 2015. Photograph: Christoph Schlessmann/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images
This story appeared on the Irish Times and written Derek Scally 
An Afghan man seeking asylum in Austria because he is homosexual has had his application rejected because he didn’t appear sufficiently gay for the migration authorities.
The 18-year-old man sought refugee status in 2016 because he said he faced persecution in Afghanistan. The application was refused because, in the words of the official, “neither your walk, your affectations nor your clothes give even the slightest indication that you could be homosexual”.
The asylum case-worker noted that the man, who was living in a hostel with other underage migrants, had been involved in fights, indicating “a potential for aggression . . . that would not be expected from a homosexual”.
Other reports from the hostel suggested the young man preferred small groups or his own company, prompting the official to ask: “Are homosexuals not more the sociable type?” A gay loner, the report adds, is not behaviour that “fits with an alleged homosexual”.
The official goes on to dismiss as “completely unthinkable” his claims that non-homosexual youths could have kissed him. “If you had really done that with a non-homosexual youth, then you would have received a terrible beating.” 
Finally, the official dismissed a claim the Afghan asylum applicant felt drawn to his own sex from the age of 12.
“In an under-sexualised society like Afghanistan, in which there are no public sexual allurements through fashion and advertising, it is not very likely to have been ‘sexualised’ so young.”
The final ruling of the official: “You are not homosexual and, on your return to Afghanistan, have nothing to fear.”

Taboo

Homosexuality in Afghanistan is largely taboo and often linked with prostitution and paedophilia. After their takeover, the Taliban criminalised all non-heterosexual relationships outside marriage and executed in public men and women accused of adultery and same-sex acts. 
After the American invasion in 2001, a handbook for US marines noted that “homosexual behaviour is relatively common, but taboo, in rural Afghanistan, because there are no other outlets for normal sexual energies”. European and Austrian courts have ruled that homosexuality can be a legitimate reason for asylum if returning a gay man or lesbian to their homeland meant they faced likely persecution.
Even Austria’s migration authority admits in its 118-page report that bisexuals, homosexuals and transsexuals in Afghanistan face “brutal rejection” by mainstream society.
NGOs, the report continues, report of gay men being detained, robbed, raped and even killed. But the migration authority ends its report by telling the young man: “you are not homosexual, you just want to trick the authority.”
Determining homosexuality as grounds for asylum has proven one of the trickiest issues for authorities in Germany and Austria on the front lines of the 2015-2016 migrant surge. But a leading Austrian gay group said on Wednesday that the report, leaked to Vienna’s Falter magazine, was “so filled with prejudice, stereotype and cliche” that it disqualified itself.
The 18-year-old Afghan man has appealed the decision. The asylum authority is standing firm, saying that “viewed objectively, one cannot assume that the person in question is, in fact, homosexual”.

July 31, 2018

Amid Life or Death Persecution 125 Gays Left Chechnya










As reported by Russian LGBT Network movement, 125 people left Chechnya amid the persecution of LGBT people. Most of them left the country. The Russian authorities stated that the victims almost did not file applications over abuses, and the words of the only applicant were not confirmed. Human rights activists note that the victims will look for protection abroad until the law enforcement agencies begin to adequately investigate crimes against sex minorities in the North Caucasus.
Since the beginning of 2017, 125 people have left Chechnya; they were victims of the persecution of sexual minorities, the Russian LGBT Network reported. "49 people of them were detained in Chechnya by law enforcers and questioned. They were forced to confess to homosexuality and spill the data about acquaintances," said a representative of the Russian LGBT Network, who asked for anonymity. "Of those who were detained, 37 people were reported on torture and imprisonment for a term of three days to three weeks. Others are partners and family members of the victims, who also received threats." According to the interlocutor, a large part of the citizens have already been fled abroad, but some are still in Russia. So, in July 2018, 20-year-old Chechen native Zelimkhan Akhmadov was kidnapped from a rented apartment in St. Petersburg. "He was handcuffed and put in a car. The concierge remembered the number of the car. They detained everyone," the source said. The kidnapper was his father Eli Akhmadov, and Zelimkhan Akhmadov had to fly abroad urgently.
Recall that in 2017 some reports of the detentions and disappearances of LGBT people in Chechnya appeared. The first one who reported about the persecution was 30-year-old native of the Omsk region Maxim Lapunov, who worked in Chechnya as the host of the events. He told how the policemen detained him and demanded to give information about his LGBT acquaintances, and when he refused, they beat and threatened to torture him with electrocution. Mr. Lapunov spent 12 days in a 2x2m cell and was released when his relatives outside of Chechnya made a fuss due to his disappearance. The victim met with federal Ombudswoman Tatyana Moskalkova, and she transferred his application to the Investigative Committee of Russia. However, the criminal case was never initiated. Earlier, press secretary of the Chechen Head Alvi Karimov stated that information about the persecution of LGBT people in the republic is "an insolent lie" and "one of the forms of information attacks on Chechnya and Russia as a whole." Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has repeatedly argued that homosexuality is "classless for the Chechen people."
The Russian LGBT Network is concerned about the authorities' refusal to recognize the persecution of gays in Chechnya. This topic was raised at the meeting of the Committee against Torture of the United Nations last week, where the Russian delegation confirmed that there are no such persecutions. "All reports of the use of violence, including those on the part of officials, have been studied and verified. The basis for the audit was information in the media about the persecution of people suspected of homosexuality, the killing of at least three citizens. This information was not confirmed," stated Valery Maksimenko, head of the Main Directorate for Supervision over Investigation and Operational Investigative Activities at the Prosecutor General's Office. "Regarding the prosecution of Lapunov, there are no data showing that Mr. Lapunov was illegally detained and tortured, and therefore the investigator refused to initiate criminal proceedings. The investigator's conclusions fully correspond with the conclusion of the human rights commissioner in the Russian Federation," Mr. Maksimenko assured. Meanwhile, Ombudswoman Tatyana Moskalkova twice appealed to law enforcement agencies with a request to initiate a criminal case. Ms. Moskalkova stated: "I got acquainted with the refusal materials. I have my own opinion on this issue; there are grounds for instituting criminal proceedings. I will appeal to the prosecutor with a request to reconsider this decision. "
Mr. Maksimenko pointed out that investigators do not have statements from the victims. "They get a statement from Maxim Lapunov, but despite his description of the place where he was held, the authorities do not want to open a criminal case. The state affirms that there is no point in demanding justice," the Russian LGBT Network believes.

July 26, 2018

Sir Elton John Blasts Russia Over it's Mistreatment of Gay People




 

SSir Elton John has sharply criticised Russia and other eastern European governments for their treatment of gay people, warning that stigma and discrimination are contributing to a fast-growing Aids epidemic in the region.
Sir Elton, who was speaking at the International Aids Conference in Amsterdam, has long been a champion of people with HIV/Aids through his foundation.
He told a press conference he was "so anti" the discrimination faced by the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community in eastern Europe.
“We’re here to protect them and for everyone who’s HIV [positive] but especially for the LGBT community that has suffered so badly and are still suffering and it makes me crazy,” said Sir Elton. “If there wasn’t this discrimination we could get rid of the disease far quicker.”
People have asked me to boycott Russia but you can’t boycott peopleSir Elton John 
His comments came as he launched further funding from his Aids foundation for local partners working in the region.
“Until we get that idea out of our head that gay people are 'less than' then I am afraid we will still be sitting here in 20 years time discussing the same thing,” he said.
“To be an LGBT person in Russia is very difficult,” he added.
Experts are increasingly warning of a “huge crisis” in the HIV and Aids epidemic in the eastern European and central Asia region, which is the only area of the world where numbers of cases of the disease are rising sharply. Between 2010 and 2017, rates of new infections in the region rose 30 per cent with much of the rise driven by new cases of the disease among injecting drug users. 
Sir Elton, whose foundation works in the region, acknowledged that working in Russia was challenging in light of conservative attitudes and discriminatory official policies. Non-governmental organisations receiving foreign funds for instance risk being labelled foreign agents by the government. 
"We know what we are up against. We are not stupid,” said Sir Elton.
“People have asked me to boycott Russia but you can’t boycott people,” he added.
Sir Elton also announced a new joint initiative to tackle HIV infection in men alongside the Duke of Sussex, whom he praised for his passion and “dedication” to tackling the HIV epidemic.

July 17, 2018

Gay Man Escapes Chechnya Only To Be Track Down By Family and Security Thugs But LGBTQ Network Saved The Day

 Зелимхан Ахмадов




[This post first appeared on LOGO]
Police caught up with the kidnappers following a tip by the Russia LGBT Network. 


A gay man who escaped the anti-LGBTQ purge in Chechnya was kidnapped on July 13, Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta reports, and it appears it was carried out by his father, with the help of Russia’s Federal Security Service. 
Zelimkhan Akhmadov, 20, was persecuted by family and law enforcement during his time in Chechnya, before escaping to Russia, where he was kidnapped. 
The Russian LGBT Network, which has been working to find asylum for victims of the detentions, beatings, and murder of gay, bisexual, and transgender Chechens, including Akhmadov, filed an application for abduction and police were able to stop the kidnapping. 
Officers brought the kidnappers, along with Akhmadov, to the police station, followed by a lawyer and employees of the Russian LGBT Network.
The man’s relatives had been trying to track him down since his escape, with the aid of Chechen authorities, as his father, Eli Akhmadov, said his son was missing, landing him on the federal wanted list. 
There are reports of Chechens being the victims of so-called “honor killings” by family members who have found out they were members of the LGBTQ community. Akhmadov was reportedly yelling for help as he was forced into a car. He also sent a two-word text message to an employee of the Russia LGBT Network, simply reading, “Help me.”
The Russia LGBT Network reports that relatives have tried to kidnap him several times in the past, including one occasion where his friend who was with him at the time was stabbed. 
The incident occurs shortly before President Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin, taking place today in Finland. The Human Rights Campaign has projected a message onto the Presidential Palace in Helsinki, demanding that Trump and Putin end the ongoing anti-LGBTQ crimes in the Russian republic of Chechnya.
Journalist based in Charlotte, North Carolina, whose work has appeared in The Charlotte Observer, Creative Loafing, and more.

April 7, 2018

How Gay Chechens Run from Death Threats, Beatings and Even Exorcism


Family pressure has fuelled a sense of persecution felt by gay people in Chechnya, a mainly Muslim region in southern Russia. 
Dozens have fled and some have been granted asylum abroad, amid reports of kidnap and torture by Chechen security forces targeting gay or allegedly gay people. Chechen officials deny the reported abuses.
Olga Prosvirova of BBC Russian interviewed two of those who fled in fear. They requested anonymity, so their names have been changed.

Presentational grey line

Marko, a Chechen in her early 20s, will never forget the day her family found out she was gay.
"They said to me: 'Either we will kill you, or we will lock you up in a psychiatric ward and throw away the key. The only alternative is that you undergo an exorcism.'" 
Marco now lives temporarily in one of Russia's largest cities, waiting to complete her documents so that she can leave Russia for good.
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov maintains that there are no homosexuals in the republic. But an investigation by the Novaya Gazeta newspaper last year found that members of Chechnya's LGBT community were regularly beaten and tortured. Some, it alleged, had even been killed.
Mr Kadyrov's spokesman Alvi Karimov dismissed the allegations, telling the Interfax news agency: "Even if such people existed in Chechnya, our law enforcement agencies would not need to bother with them, because their own relatives would simply send them to a place from which they would never return."
Marko says she knew she was different even at the age of four.
"As a teenager, I used to think about suicide," she told BBC Russian. "But then I decided: 'No, I won't give you the satisfaction. I'll run away and do the things I have always dreamed of, whatever it takes, whether you like it or not.'" 
Muslim exorcism
Before she left Chechnya, Marko agreed to her family's demand that she undergo an exorcism. Her brother took her to their local mosque, where the mullah told her she was possessed by the devil.
"He held my head and read verses from the Koran, and I knew I had to respond as a person possessed would," she says. "I had seen enough YouTube videos to know what to do, and so I twisted about and shouted and said there were seven different demons inside me."
After two hours, she says, everyone rejoiced and said I was cured. "'Hooray!' they all shouted. 'You are no longer a lesbian!'"
They found a young man for her and told her she would marry, but soon after that she managed to escape.  

Presentational grey line

Since giving this interview, and helped by an LGBT organisation, Marko has left Russia for a new life abroad. She says she now wants to put her past behind her and just live with her girlfriend, whom she met on social media.
"I just want to live, to have children and be happy," she says.

International dimension


Gay protest in London, 2 Jun 17Image copyrightAFP
Image captionGay rights activists protested outside the Russian embassy in London last summer

It is hard to find out how many Chechens like Marko have been granted refuge outside Russia, as many immigration services do not register the sexual orientation of asylum seekers. 
Last year the German foreign ministry said it had accepted one gay man from Chechnya and was reviewing four more applications. Lithuania has taken in two and France one. 
Belgium has given five gay Chechen men humanitarian visas so that they can fly to Belgium from Moscow, Belgian media reported on Friday.
And more than two dozen gay and bisexual men and women from Chechnya have been granted asylum in Canada.
This week Igor Kochetkov, head of the Russian LGBT Network, told Novaya Gazeta that over the past year his charity had assisted 114 people from Chechnya who said they had been persecuted because of their sexual orientation.

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov (R) and Russian President Vladimir Putin, 20 Dec 11Image copyrightAFP
Image captionChechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov (R) is a firm ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin

Ruslan is torn between his feelings for his boyfriend and love of his own family. He escaped Chechnya after being held captive for a month.
"I've liked boys since I was a kid," says Ruslan, now in his early 30s. "But when my relatives found out I was gay, they took away my passport, my documents and my mobile phone and they locked me in my room for over a month."
One day he managed to get out and borrowed a neighbour's phone. Later that night his boyfriend came to whisk him away to a different city.

'Living a lie'

Ruslan spoke of a "big purge of gays in Chechnya". 
He said the Kadyrov militia "found one and beat him until he gave them the names of others. 
"Some were caught and thrown into cellars and beaten violently. Some were never found: their relatives didn't even bother looking for them, because they said they'd brought shame on them."
Ruslan's new life is more difficult than he imagined it would be. He spends most of his time hiding indoors; if he goes out, he covers his head with a hood. 
To earn money recently, he handed out campaign leaflets before last month's presidential election, but once he came across a police patrol and ran straight back to his flat.
Unlike Marko, Ruslan has not decided whether he should flee Russia. "I don't know what's happening at home (in Chechnya)," he says. "My brother is probably looking for me: he has most likely gone to the police."
When he talks about his family and his home, he struggles to hold back the tears. He misses his mother and young niece, he says, who is getting married soon.
"All my life I have observed our customs, according to the Koran," he says. "But I simply couldn't carry on living a lie. The only thing I wish for is that my niece, whom I love dearly, doesn't think badly of me and that her husband does not say to her: 'Your uncle is gay: your family is unclean.' I pray to Allah to protect her from this."

BBC

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