As the situation in Chechnya continues to intensify with very little intervention from the international community, gay and bisexual men from the region are fleeing for their lives to escape detention, abuse, and possibly being killed.
Novaya Gazeta first reported in March that around 100 gay men had been rounded up by police and detained in what is widely being referred to as a modern-day ‘concentration camp’.
Human Rights Watch later confirmed the horrific reports, adding that the information coming through was “consistent” with “numerous trusted sources” they had spoken to on the ground in Russia.
But more recently there have been further terrible accounts of young gay men being murdered by their own family members, as authorities tell parents to kill them – or they’ll do it themselves.
In one chilling instance, a 17-year-old male was pushed from a 9th floor balcony by his own uncle.
The Russian LGBT Network have been working hard to help men escape the persecution, and have so far managed to get 40 people into hiding in other areas of Russia.
However, the organisation are working hard to get these men visas as their lives are in danger if they remain within the country.
Spokesperson Svetlana Zakharova told BuzzFeed News that so far they have been unable to secure any of the 40 men a US visa so they can get them to safety.
It means that some of the victims have already left Russia without any documentation for fear they’ll get caught any day.
When asked why the US had denied these Chechen men visas, they wouldn’t comment.
“As visa records are confidential under U.S. law, we are unable to discuss individual cases,” they said.
Meanwhile, Lithuania has become the first country to grant asylum to gay and bisexual Chechens needing to escape their home country.
What’s more, over $250,000 has been raised by a handful of Facebook campaign for the non-profit organisation Rainbow Railroad, which is currently helping victims escape Chechnya’s ongoing detention and abuse of gay men.
The Kremlin and Chechen government have both denied allegations that gay men are being detained and tortured in the region.
That’s despite Chechnya’s president, Ramzan Kadyrov, having publicly declared that he wants all LGBT+ people in the country to be eliminated by May 26, which marks the start of Muslim holiday, Ramadan.