Dozens of homosexual men are disappearing in Chechnya, that is according to a leading opposition newspaper in Russia. Some are allegedly being arrested, tortured and killed by police because of their sexuality.
A report in Novaya Gazeta claims more than 100 people have been detained in an anti-gay campaign, among them well-known television personalities and religious figures.
The Novaya Gazeta article also claimed that three people had been killed, and suggested others could have been handed to their families with the expectation that the family would perform an honour killing.
Attitudes to LGBT rights are mixed in Russia, with a law banning the “propaganda of homosexuality among minors” on the books. But Moscow and other big cities have a thriving gay scene, even if much of it remains underground.
In Chechnya and the other Muslim republics of the North Caucasus, there is no discussion of the issue, and gay men do not even tell their closest friends of their orientation.
A spokesman for the Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, has denied the newspaper report, describing it as “absolute lies and disinformation,” claiming there are no gay people in Chechnya.
At the Council of Europe in Strasbourg=, rapporteur for LGBT people, Jonas Gunnarsson is leading calls for the “alarming reports” to be fully investigated and alleged victims protected.