Worldwide protests erupt after reports of a gay concentration camp in Chechnya

Worldwide protests erupt after reports of a gay concentration camp in Chechnya

A Moscow-owned Russian opposition newspaper, Novaya Gazeta, cited claims by federal law enforcement officials who said the men, ranging in ages from 16 to 50, were detained "in connection with their nontraditional sexual orientation, or suspicion of such".

Although the group cannot independent verify claims of camps, Artemyev said 'Given the very homophobic environment and "honour killing" practices in Chechnya it's nearly impossible to get any verified information as people are too afraid to talk.

Russian Federation has a bad track record on LGBTQIA issues but hasn't gone to the extremes alleged about Chechnya.

The MEPs' plea reads: "We are writing to you to express our horror at the situation befalling LGBT persons and in particular gay men in Chechnya".

It is alleged that the President of Chechnya and key Putin ally, Razman Kadyrov, ordered the purge.

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Gay men have also been reportedly deleting their social media accounts after it was found police tried to lure them into dates and arrest them.

The report says that the Chechen government has responded to the accusations calling them "lies" and said homosexual people "simply don't exist in the republic".

While the Russian government's office for human rights has not confirmed the report, LGBT rights organizations in Russia have condemned it, and are trying to evacuate gay citizens at a risk of persecution. "We call on the Russian government to protect all people from discrimination and violence, and allow the free exercise of the freedoms of expression, association, peaceful assembly, and religion or belief".

Svetlana Zakharova, a spokeswoman for the Russian LGBT network, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation by phone that "such campaigning against homosexual men is unprecedented in Russia".

National Party MP Paul Foster Bell added that "reports of extrajudicial killings and concentration camps of (perceived) gay and bisexual men require us to raise our voices".

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'That's why we have called on Russian authorities to take all measures possible to investigate the allegations made by the Novaya Gazeta informants, meanwhile we make every effort to obtain as much information as we can'. Much like Karimov before her, however, Saratova downplayed the existence of gay people in the region at large. The newspaper also noted that none of the men detained had been open about their homosexuality in a society where it is still strictly taboo.

The news of the round-ups comes on the heels of other reports of extreme violence and the detention of gay men. "You can not arrest or repress people who just don't exist in the republic", Alvi Karimov said to Interfax.

Another former inmate has said he was beaten to force them to name other members of the LGBTI community, including being electrocuted in a "homemade electric chair".

However, President Ramzan Kadyrov, denied ordering the crackdown stating, "It is impossible to persecute those who are not in the republic".

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