Anti-Gay Prison Camps in Chechnya

Michelle Barbero, Staff Writer |

Argun, a town in Chechnya, Russia, is now allegedly home to modern day prison camps, in which gay men are being held. It is believed that inside these camps, gay men are forced to endure torturous abuse.

The existence of these camps was brought to light by human rights campaigners. Allegedly, around 100 gay men have been sent to these camps so far and some were murdered by Chechen police.

According to the Independent, “in Chechnya, the command was given for a ‘prophylactic sweep’ and it went as far as real murders.”

Some of the torture methods used included intense beatings and electric shocks administered in front of one another. There have been reports of men being forced to sit on glass bottles and pay money to the police every month to stay alive.

The Independent states further, “those who have escaped said they are detained in the same room and people are kept all together, around 30 or 40.”

Feelings of anxiety and fear have swept over the entire population of Chechen. According to Natalie Gil and Kimberly Truong, “These days, very few people in Chechnya dare to speak to human rights monitors or journalists even anonymously because the climate of fear is overwhelming and people have been largely intimidated into silence.”

With a large amount of the population feeling threatened by being sent to one of these camps themselves, it becomes harder to fight the extreme homophobia that exists in Chechnya. Now, Chechen people are turning against their own family members if they publicly identify as gay, fearing that having a gay relative would ruin the family’s honor.

Men are being forced to hide their true sexual identities and many are deleting their social media profiles to stay as far from the public eye as possible. The New York Times shared that a lot of the men were forced into these camps by being tricked into fake dates, and the victims were arrested upon arrival.

Chechnya leaders not only deny the existence of these camps, but they also deny that there are gay men within Chechnya. A representative of Ramzan Kadrov, a leader in Chechnya, told Interfax that “you cannot arrest or repress people who just don’t exist in this republic.”

A Russian LGBT hotline has been put into place for people seeking advice and a person to safely confide in.

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