Inside Chechnya’s vicious anti-gay crackdown

The Daily Beast reports: Beka Gabadadze’s cell phone rang again: another gay teenager was in big trouble. A 16-year-old from the Zugdidi region of Georgia was begging Gabadadze, an LGBT activist and human rights advocate, to rescue him.

The boy’s family members were determined to drag him to a doctor for hormone treatment against homosexuality; when he was at home his older brother severely beat him. The teenager, who we are not naming to protect his identity, escaped home and is now hiding at a friend’s house in the Georgian capital of Tbilisi, terrified to return home.

Coming out of the closet is an act of heroism for LGBT people all over the Caucasus, a region dominated by deep homophobia. The LGBT population of the Caucasus suffer from increasingly horrifying hate crimes.

A particularly vicious crackdown is reportedly underway in the Republic of Chechnya, where authorities have initiated the most violent anti-gay campaign since the fall of the Soviet Union.

The Daily Mail reported that Chechen authorities had set up what it called “concentration camps” near the town of Argun where gay men are “being tortured with electric shocks and beaten to death.”

While the presence or not of the “camps” has yet to be independently verified, Tatiana Lokshina, program director for Human Rights Watch in Moscow, told the Daily Beast: “Chechen authorities did not build special ‘LGBT concentration camps’–this information is misleading. But dozens of presumed gay men have been rounded up by local security officials and tortured in holding facilities, which are apparently maintained by Chechen authorities in several districts of Chechnya. People detained arbitrarily, abduction style, are generally taken there for interrogation, which practically always involves torture and cruel, degrading treatment.”

Graphic reports of persecution have been received by the Russian LGBT Network. The Network told NBC News they had received around 30 calls for help from those targeted since April 2.

According to a report published in Russian independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta, several gay men have been killed in the past few weeks and dozens have been arrested and tortured.

To all media requests for clarification and comment, Chechen authorities responded that there were no gay men in Chechnya. [Continue reading…]

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