Sunday, April 02, 2017

Gay Persecution

Authorities in the Russian republic of Chechnya have launched an anti-gay campaign that has led to authorities rounding up dozens of men suspected of being homosexual. More than 100 people had been detained and three men killed in the roundup. It claimed that among those detained were well-known local television personalities and religious figures.

Alvi Karimov, spokesperson for Chechnya’s leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, described the report as “absolute lies and disinformation”, basing his denial on the claim that there were no gay people in Chechnya. “You cannot detain and persecute people who simply do not exist in the republic.” He continued “If there were such people in Chechnya, the law-enforcement organs wouldn’t need to have anything to do with them because their relatives would send them somewhere from which there is no returning.”

Chechnya is formally part of Russia, but functions as a quasi-independent state in which the word of Kadyrov often seems to transcend Russian laws. He has overseen the rebuilding of the republic with Moscow’s money, after two devastating wars. Kadyrov has at various times endorsed polygamy, compulsory wearing of the hijab for women in public places, and collective punishment for the relatives of those involved in the Islamist underground. Chechen society is strictly conservative, meaning that unlike other cases where relatives or rights activists may put pressure on authorities when a homosexual relative disappears, those suspected are likely to be disowned by their own families. Locals say that if a family was known to have a gay member, other relatives would find it difficult to marry due to the “shame”

“I haven’t had a single request on this issue, but if I did, I wouldn’t even consider it,” Kheda Saratova, a Chechen activist who is on Kadyrov’s human rights council, told a Russian radio station. “In our Chechen society, any person who respects our traditions and culture will hunt down this kind of person without any help from authorities, and do everything to make sure that this kind of person does not exist in our society.”

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