‘We cannot turn a blind eye’ harrowing report details gay torture in Chechnya purge

A top LGBT+ rights organisation is demanding in an investigation into the Chechen Republic after three reported killings and more than 114 LGBT+ people and their families have been confirmed in a report.

ILGA (The International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association) have produced a harrowing document looking into what happened when gay men in the Russian Republic were tortured and detained because of their sexuality.

At least 12 women, two of whom were trans, were also detained by Chechen authorities last year, states the report.


Justice has been demanded by several human rights organisations

Justice has been demanded by several human rights organisations

According to the study, Magomed Daudov, Speaker of the Chechen Parliament, oversaw some of the tortures in person.

Not only is the report (on which the final PACE resolution is based) the first of its kind from an international institution, it’s a critical reminder for the world that the repression of the LGBTI communities in Chechnya is not over.” said Evelyne Paradis, ILGA-Europe Executive Director.

“A full independent investigation, carried out without delay – that is what is still urgently needed. And this report is unequivocal: if the Russian authorities do not act, then the international community must conduct such an investigation. We commend Piet de Bruyn on his dedication and for bringing the voices of LGBTI people in Chechnya back into the spotlight.”

Although the one victim who has spoken out about his ordeal, Maxim Lapunov, fled to Russia for safety, he has since left the country due to the ever-increasing hostility against LGBT+ people in the country.

“In a poll published at the beginning of 2018, the Levada Center, a Russian polling agency, found that  “83 percent of Russians thought gay sex was “always reprehensible” or “almost always reprehensible,” the report reads.


Protesting Chechnya

Berliner protesting the gay purge in Chechnya (John MACDOUGALL (Photo credit should read JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images)

In his ordeal, he spent two weeks being tortured in the basement by Chechen authorities, who read his phone and demanded confessions of other gay people he knew.

“They read all the messages he had on his phone. Several men, speaking Chechen, entered one after the other the room where he was being detained. Each of them beat him up, with their hands or with plastic tubes,” reads the report.


Openly gay Maxim Lapunov, 30, gives a press conference in Moscow. A gay man living in Chechnya went public to describe his detention and torture by police during a crackdown on gay men in the region ruled by strongman Ramzan Kadyrov. (ALEXANDER NEMENOV/AFP/Getty Images)

“They would let him fall and catch his breath and then recommence the beating. After some time, he was brought to another room, where he was forced to fight with a Chechen man. He was asked to perform sexual favours on this man, which he refused, and was again severely beaten. He lost the sense of time. He told me he did not expect to survive.

“He was forced to record a testimony acknowledging he was gay, had to give names and addresses of family members and his fingerprints were taken.”


A protest against the human rights abuses took place last year (Photo by JOHN MACDOUGALL/AFP/Getty Images)

With the World Cup shining a spotlight on Russia, the nation has relaxed its hostility towards LGBT+ people.

Football fans, including England spectators, have been able to bring pride rainbow flags into stadiums so far – which was promised before the tournament by Fifa and the Russian football association.

But campaigners fear what awaits them when the tournament is over.

The head of the Russian LGBT Sport Federation, Aleksandr Agapov told the Press Association: “In a way it is very good that Russia shows its opportunity, its possibility to be so open and inclusive but for me as an LGBTI person it is a huge question whether we will have a positive legacy of the World Cup when the World Cup is over.”