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photography Bex Wade

Gay Chechens fleeing abuse are being denied U.S visas

Approximately 40 survivors, hiding throughout Russia, are having difficulty finding safety

Having endured persecution, detainment, torture and the threat of murder all for their sexuality, gay Chechens have fled their country to seek safety elsewhere. It has now been reported that the United States has denied the visas for around 40 Chechens.

Scores of people are in hiding throughout Russia, after the Russian region of Chechnya began abducting gay men. Hundreds are thought to have been kidnapped, tortured and murdered, though the state continues to deny the allegations.

The Independent reports that though officials from the U.S State Department refused to confirm or deny the visa situation, a spokesperson for the Russian LGBT Network, Sveltlana Zakharova, confirmed the news to Buzzfeed.

News first broke last month of the concentration camp-style detainment centre in the south Russian region. Since then, only two people have been able to gain visas to flee persecution. The journalist who originally broke the story at Novaya Gazeta has went into hiding – she recently spoke to Dazed about her experience.

Representatives in the UK and the U.S have openly condemned the treatment of LGBT people in Chechnya. It’s definitely concerning that the United States is turning away Chechens who are in serious need.

Ramzan Kadyrov, who rules the region, continues to uphold that Chechnya “does not have this phenomenon called non-traditional sexual orientation”, while also calling for a ‘gay purge’.

As pressure mounts on Vladimir Putin from across the world, the Russian leader has agreed to see that an investigation is conducted. However, Ha'aretz, an Israeli publication, reported last week that the investigation may already be over, and somehow found “there are no victims of persecution, threats or violence.”

“The United States continues to be concerned about the situation in the Republic of Chechnya, where credible reports indicate at least 100 men have been detained on the basis of their sexual orientation,” the State Department official told the Independent. “Credible reports further indicate that some of those men have been tortured and even killed. The United States categorically condemns the persecution of individuals based on their sexual orientation or any other basis.”

We recently spoke to activists who were detained by authorities in Russia for delivering a petition and protesting in solidarity with gay Chechens.