One Equal World

Posts Tagged ‘Russia

A photo of a mosque in Chechnya.

A mosque in Chechnya.
Photo credit: Shutterstock

Russia is known for having regressive views towards homosexuality, but the republic of Chechnya (which is part of the Russian Federation) is taking things to another level.

Police there are suspected of having rounded up over 100 men “in connection with their nontraditional sexual orientation, or suspicion of such.” At least three have been killed, though specific details remain unclear.

The round-up began after a gay rights group in Russia applied for permits to march in a different part of the country. Although authorities aren’t releasing much information on the case yet, it’s very clear that Chechnya is not LGBT-friendly.

To give you a little background, Chechnya is a small region in Russia that has long been a thorn in the side to Russian leadership ever since Stalin. The region’s current leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, is known for human rights violations, although until now, gay men were not targeted in large numbers.

Kadyrov’s spokesman, Ali Karimov, denied reports of the action, stating that there are no gay men in Chechnya, and that “it’s impossible to persecute those who are not in the republic.” But he went on to say that if there were gay men in Chechnya, “law enforcement would not have to worry about them, as their own relatives would have sent them to where they could never return.”

It’s clear that the government of Chechnya is hiding something, and certainly has no love for its gay citizens. Outright denying these claims, which have been substantiated by several sources (including Russian federal law enforcement) is a weak smokescreen at best.

But claiming that there aren’t even any gay people to oppress, while dismissing them as some kind of pests who would have been killed by their own families, shows a complete lack of conscience on the part of Kadyrov. Unfortunately, the only thing that this proves is that it is still very, very dangerous to be gay in certain part of the world.

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Sochi Russia Olympics LGBT

Sochi Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov claimed of LGBTs: “We do not have them in our city.”
Image: Maks Karochkin / Flickr CC

By now you’ve probably seen the headlines concerning the mayor of Sochi, Russia. They might read something like, “Mayor of Sochi Denies Homosexuality Exists in his City,” or “Clueless Mayor is Blind to Gays and Lesbians in Sochi.” Basically, Anatoly Pakhomov recently claimed in an interview with BBC that gay folks don’t have to hide their sexuality in Sochi, because there are no gay folks in Sochi.

He explained, “No, we just say that it is your business, it’s your life. But it’s not accepted here in the Caucasus where we live. We do not have them in our city,” of his initial belief that Sochi was somehow devoid of homosexuality. Of course Sochi, and Russia in general, is absolutely not lacking in its LGBT population, something that has been made all the more apparent in the riots and backlash against brutal anti-gay Russian legislature. Russia’s gay and lesbian population is doing all it can to attain visibility amid the hateful, discriminatory, and dangerous laws that are in place there. Pakhomov denying the existence of gays and lesbians in Sochi is indicative of the uphill battle LGBTs are facing in terms of gaining rights, safety, or even just recognition of their presence.

As the world prepares for the Olympic games, controversially being hosted by Sochi, that part of Russia in particular is facing immense scrutiny. Countless activists, public figures, and celebrities have voiced their concern and anger with the Olympics being held in such a hateful place, and there is a great amount of tension descending upon Sochi as the world anticipates impending conflict. The fact is, LGBT identities exist in all parts of the world, and Russia’s very public denial of basic human rights hurts not only its citizens, but people everywhere who are trying to achieve universal equality.

This is the first of what may inevitably become a long string of homophobic Olympics news stemming from Sochi. Pakhomov is a shining example of the ignorant at best, hateful and dangerous at worst culture of homophobia that exists in Russia. Here’s to hoping that Olympic competitors and tourists remain safe during the upcoming events in Sochi.