LGBTI equality and human rights in Europe and Central Asia

Latest update from Chechnya on grave human rights violations

On 1 April, Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta published an article reporting the arbitrary detention, torture and extra-judicial killing of (perceived) gay and bisexual men on a mass scale in Chechnya. 

ILGA-Europe was gravely concerned to read this article. In the days following its publication, we (along with other human rights organisations) have been working to determine the facts and assess what the most helpful response would be to best support the victims. 

Due to the nature of the overall human rights situation in the region, and the bleak conditions for LGBT people even prior to this crisis, it is incredibly difficult to monitor what is happening. 

According to sources from the North Caucasus to date, over 100 people have been detained for arbitrary reasons in unofficial prisons, where victims are being tortured by electric current, cruelly beaten, and forced to disclose personal contacts of other gay men in Chechnya. The Russian LGBT Network can confirm at least 3 murders so far – out of a reported 20 murders. 

An organisation has set up a 24-hour confidential hotline to collect further data, reach victims and arrange evacuation support for victims. 20 calls have been received, and evacuations of a number of people are in process. 

The Novaya Gazeta article has attracted considerable attention. However, many people remain detained, facing torture and inhumane treatment in horrific conditions. 

Support for those living in Chechnya from the international community is needed – urgently. 

ILGA-Europe are calling for an immediate halt to the violence against the LGBTI community, the release of those detained, and for the proper investigation of the arbitrary detention, torture and extra judicial killing of (perceived) gay and bisexual men in Chechnya. 

We strongly urge the international community to use any means it has to defend victims of detentions. The Russian authorities must end these horrific abuses of the human rights of gay and bisexual men. The victims must be urgently released from illegal detention camps, where they live in terrible conditions, being subjected to brutal beatings and torture. 

  • Anyone outside Russia with information they would like to share on the current situation in Chechnya can confidentially contact ILGA-Europe Tel.: +32 2 609 54 10 or 

General conditions for LGBT people in Chechnya, Russian Federation: 
There have been reports of violence and persecution of LGBT people in Chechnya in the past. This is a region with strong traditional religious and cultural customs. Gay men (or those perceived to be gay) being banished or murdered by family members (in so-called ‘honour killings) has been an ongoing issue in the region. However, attacks on men with so-called ‘non-traditional’ sexual orientations have not been consistently reported before, and where they have they have not been on the scale reported by Novaya Gazeta this past weekend.   

Response from the authorities:
Official statements of Chechen leaders are a clear incitement to hatred. The leader of the Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, responded to claims of arrests of homosexual and bisexual men to Interfax news agency with the following statement: “You cannot detain and persecute people who simply do not exist in the republic. If there were such people in Chechnya, the law-enforcement organs wouldn’t need to have anything to do with them because their relatives would send them somewhere from which there is no returning.”

Similarly Kheda Saratova, a member of the human rights council of Chechnya, told a Russian radio station: “in our Chechen society, any person who respects our traditions and culture will hunt down this kind of person without any help from authorities, and do everything to make sure that this kind of person does not exist in our society”.