Gay and bisexual men in Chechnya, a Russian republic, are being arrested by Chechen authorities and sent to camps to be beaten and tortured. Men who have escaped reported being taken to camps where they were beaten. They have also reported being shocked repeatedly while being interrogated. Authorities reportedly wanted the names of other gay or bisexual men.
Authorities are said to be posing as gay men online to lure out others, meeting with them in order to arrest them. The Novaya Gazeta, the paper which originally carried this story in April, reported that over 100 men had been arrested and at least three were dead. More recently, the death toll has risen to at least 26 with even more arrests. Many of these deaths have come from “honor killings” by families, where men are released only to be killed by relatives for their sexual orientations. These killings have been encouraged by authorities.
When asked about the torture, Alvi Karimov, the spokesman of Chechnya leader Ramzan A. Kadyrov, claimed there was no were no camps because gay people did not exist in Chechnya. Kadyrov himself called these reports “libelous.” Dmitry Peskov, Russian President Vladimir Putin’s Press Secretary, claimed the reports were false because no one had officially reported the attacks to Chechnya police, though human rights activists have pointed out people weren't likely to come out as victims to police for fear of arrest. Despite the denial by authorities, the truth of the reports has been confirmed by groups such as the Human Rights Watch and the United Nations.
The Russian LGBT Network has been working on treating injured people and helping them escape Chechnya, but they do not have the funding they need to help everyone. The only action the United States government has taken in response to this violence has been to deny visas to gay men fleeing prosecution. President Trump has been silent on this issue, though a spokesman of the State Department released a statement saying the United States is “concerned” about the situation.