More than a year after the first reports of gay and bisexual men in Chechnya being tortured in prison camps, most of those taken by authorities have still not been found, and are feared to be still imprisoned or dead.
The Human Rights Campaign has called on US President Donald Trump to end his “deafening silence” on the crimes against LGBTI people—primarily gay and bisexual men—in the region, Gay Times has reported.
“Russia has refused to launch an investigation, and those who carried out these abuses face no repercussions for their actions.
“You must condemn these crimes against humanity and call on Russia to conduct an investigation and hold the perpetrators accountable.”
A gay man named Ruslan has come forward about his experiences during Chechnya’s crackdown on the LGBTI community, saying that he was outed when a family member came across text messages to his boyfriend on his phone.
He said that his family took away his phone and passport, and locked him in his room for a month.
“In Chechnya there was a big cleansing of gays,” he said.
“People working for [President] Kadyrov would target one [gay] person and through blackmail and beating would force him to surrender others.”
“Some were caught, taken to the cellars, beaten violently, others were not found.
“Relatives sometimes did not even look for them, as they wanted to wash away the shame.”
Ruslan was eventually able to escape his family home and flee to Russia.
Chechnyan President Ramzan Kadyrov has consistently denied the reports of a gay purge, claiming there are no gay people in the region.
Dozens of gay and bisexual men are thought to have been executed, and charges of genocide have been made against Chechnya by LGBTI rights groups.