The Russia LGBT Network has accused the U.S. of declining to give visas to gay Chechens fleeing their country’s months-long campaign of kidnapping, detainment and torture. In a statement e-mailed to Buzzfeed News, the Network said, “We were informed that the U.S. is not going to issue visas for people from Chechnya.”
Speaking to Buzzfeed News on background, a U.S. State Department spokesperson said that they could not comment on the individual cases of alleged visa denials because, “visa records are confidential under U.S. law.”
The Russia LGBT Network says that it has helped 40 gay and bi Chechen men flee persecution at the hands of the semi-autonomous Russian state. These men are now hiding in different parts of Russia while they await international visas to escape into more accepting countries.
Meanwhile, three French LGBTQ organizations have “filed a complaint against Chechnya with the International Criminal Court,” according to Gay Star News. In their complaint, the organizations — Stop Homophobia, Mousse, and Comite Idaho France — reportedly called Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov “the architect” of “a genocide.”
Buzzfeed News reports that one of Kadyrov’s advisors spoke against Novaya Gazeta, the paper that first told of the kidnappings and torture, in a rally televised this past April. The advisor called the reporters “enemies of our faith and of our country.” The original reporter and other newspaper staff have since gone into hiding to avoid violent retaliation.
After a brief investigation into claims of Chechen violence against suspected gays, bisexuals and lesbians, the Russia government concluded, “There are no victims of persecution, threats or violence.” Their conclusion contradicts multiple human rights groups, the local Russia LGBT Network as well as first-hand accounts from gay and bi refugees who specifically report electric torture, beatings and honor killings facilitated by Chechen authorities.
(Featured image by Bet_Noire via iStock Photography)