Journalists at the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta first reported that an anti-gay campaign is under way in the Russian republic of Chechnya. The Guardian conducted interviews with two Chechen gay men who say they were captured, beaten and tortured in informal detention facilities.
From The Guardian:
For Adam, it all started with a phone call from a gay friend.
“He called me, and in a very calm and normal voice suggested meeting. I've known him for a long time, so I didn't suspect a thing,” said Adam. But when he arrived at the arranged meeting place, he realised it was a set up. There were six people waiting for him, some of them in uniform, and they shouted that they knew he was gay.
At first, Adam denied it, but when it became clear the men had read messages he had sent to others, he admitted he was indeed gay. He was put in the back of a van and taken to the detention facility, where the men were locked in a room and slept on concrete floors. “They woke us up at 5am and let us sleep at 1am. Different people would come in and take turns to beat us. Sometimes they brought in other prisoners, who were told we were gay and were also ordered to beat us.”
Detainees held in multiple locations have reported similar stories of beatings and electric-shock treatment.
The captors seized mobile phones from the prisoners, scrolling through their contacts and demanding to know which men among them were also gay. “They called us animals, non-humans, said we were going to die there,” Adam said. After more than 10 days, some of the men were released to their families.
“They said: ‘Your son is a faggot. Do what you need to with him,'” he recalled. Adam still denied his sexuality to his family, but his father refused to speak with him, and threatened violence. One night shortly after, he collected a few belongings and left his home without saying a word to anyone, aiming to get as far away from Chechnya as possible. He has never lived outside Chechnya and is intimidated about starting life again from scratch. He is no longer in contact with family members.