Brutality In Chechnya

There is a growing crisis that is currently affecting our community.  In a southern region of Russia known as Chechnya, brutality towards homosexuals is common. In this country, being homosexual is frowned upon by everyone, including the homosexual's own families.  An article written by James Bennett in the New York Times describes many homosexuals and their trials being gay and the precautions that come along with that (Bennett, New York Times, 4/25/2017, Pg. A20).  For most, they will not survive once they are outed.  They will be “sent away” with no hopes of ever coming back alive. Guy Birchall, writer for The Sun describes how an interviewee reported that if your own parents don’t murder you for being gay, one of your extended family members will (Birchall, 5/3/2017, The Sun ).  In April of 2017, it has been reported that Chechnya has been creating gay concentration camps with the sole purpose of beating, torturing and executing homosexual men (Emery, David, Snopes, 4/11/2017).  Many videos of this horrific experience have surfaced depicting this current epidemic.  A few escaped detainees have done interviews while masking their faces describing the horrible abuse that they are enduring. Extermination of the homosexual man is well underway for the Chechen community.

Chechnya, known as a Federal Subdivision of Russia, has roughly 1.5 million residents.  Their President, Ramzan Kadyrov claims that these so called “gay concentration camps” don’t actually exist, as Chechnya “doesn’t have any gay men.”  Whether he is in disbelief, or covering up a major scandal,  hundreds of homosexuals have described their horrific experience.  If you are lucky to survive, escaping the country and never returning is your only hope.  

Survivors of these concentration camps are describing the attacks as gays being “hunted down” and thrown into cells.  Matthew Chance, writer for CNN News describes the current situation in Chechnya involving orchestrated police checkpoints, and any suspicion of homosexuality will get you beaten and detained immediately (Chance, CNN News, 4/19/2017).  Shaun Walker, writer for The Guardian writes that over 100 men have been captured and three have been killed at this time by the detainers.  Whether they died of inflicted wounds or deliberately, we will not know.  Walker states that their main choice of attack is either beating the refugees with hands and feet or electrocuting them through clamps on their ears, chest and other body parts.  Electroshock therapy was used in the 40’s and was eventually disavowed in 1973, but this goes to show how far behind in modernization Chechnya is. (Huffington Post, Jamie Scot, 6/28/2013).  The police that are involved in the abductions are going as far as to look through suspected homosexuals phones to get proof. (Walker, The Guardian, 4/2/2017).  No word yet on how exactly police are auditing through prospective gay's cell phones, or if they have higher technology to detect gay dating apps.   

It is unknown what the motives are of the detainers, aside from harming homosexuals.  One would think maybe this is their idea of scaring homosexual males out of this country.  Although many Chechen people have claimed that there aren’t any “such people” that live in Chechnya, they are clearly mistaken.  For the few that have escaped these camps, they fear coming home. A home should be a place of comfort, safety and warmth.  But unfortunately, these detainers are removing the joy and happiness and replacing it with brutality and pain.  The victims no longer have a safe place to go or a family who loves them.  The unfortunate nature of the acts that are happening to these men is painful to hear and comprehend.  My home and my family is my safe place; my world is built on that foundation.  If my foundation were taken away, I wouldn't know where to turn.  I would be lost, alone and in pain.

The so-called “Second Holocaust” is well on its way to making history.  The predominantly Muslim country seems to have no room for any homosexuals and has no shame in “outing” them.  A vast majority of homosexual socialites including Andy Cohen and Lance Bass have taken to the media to discuss their feelings about this current epidemic and how this brutality needs to end.  There are multiple sites offering to raise money for the persecuted captives.  Human Rights activists from all around the world, including the Israeli LGBTQ group, have taken to the media to express their thoughts.

For us in America, we are protected by laws and a government which allows us to be who we are.  One cannot legally abuse someone for being homosexual. This is not to say that it doesn’t happen on a regular basis, but at least there are consequences for the instigator.  We are blessed to live in this country where we can be who we are in the modern day.  We celebrate homosexuality in every major city, and celebrate our freedom and how far we have come.  The gay rights movement has paved the way for present day men and women to be able to be gay and in public. Although we are blessed in the present day to be able to live these lives, not too long ago we homosexuals were being beaten and attacked.  But as a society, we homosexuals are working on breaking the stigma revolving the gay culture and are helping people to see us as humans; just like everyone else. We can have jobs, a family, we contribute to society, and pay taxes.  Yes, we do not fit the definition written in the Bible written 2,500 years ago, but we still do feel love and compassion for others.   

Chechnya isn’t the first country to be known for their hatred of homosexuals.  Most Muslim countries discourage gay men from visiting, and recommend not displaying affection in public with the same sex.  Even America three decades back was not the easiest for the gay community, and acceptance still hasn’t been fully achieved.  For thousands of years, the homosexual culture has mainly been hushed.  The death penalty is currently still active in seven countries. According to the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association (ILGA), homosexuality is illegal and punishable by the death penalty in the whole or part of seven countries: Iran, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Sudan, Nigeria, Mauritania and Somalia, (Independent, Adam Withnall, 2/25/2014).  Despite these countries and their beliefs, America has made great strides to achieve freedom for the gay community.  The legalization of gay marriage was a huge step in the right direction for our community.  We now have gay leaders, congressmen, authors, talk show hosts, and a vast variety of other prominent gay men and women that give back to our community.  We embrace their “gift” of homosexuality and look up to them for leadership and guidance.  Do you think that is something that is achievable for other countries?    

Despite the devastating tragedy that is happening in Chechnya, this will only bring the gay community closer.  The LGBTQ community has come so far, and this brutality is one more thing that will bring us together to fight as one.  In America, we have made great strides to freedom, and we do not discriminate.  Although Chechnya seems to be taking a step back with homosexuality, one can only hope that they will learn a lesson from our experience and one day will accept their citizens for who they are.