LGBTQ+ activists march at Pride in London for gay Chechen man who was ‘thrown in pit and beaten’

LGBTQ+ activists are today (29 June) marching at Pride in London to expose the cruel situation in Chechnya, including sharing the story of a man who was thrown in pit and brutally beaten for being gay. 

Chechnya is part of the Russian Federation where LGBTQ+ people have been imprisoned, beaten, tortured and killed in gay concentration camps. The anti-LGBTQ+ crackdown, first revealed in 2017, has seen dozens of men abducted, tortured and killed for their real or perceived sexual orientation. 

The Chechen republic in Russia has been under the brutal dictatorship of Ramzan Kadyrov – who orchestrated the region’s brutal gay purges and has been named as Vladimir Putin’s “foot solider” – since 2007.

Dimitri, whose name has been been changed to protect his identity, is a Chechen living in one of the post-soviet countries. He has been victim to Kadyrov’s anti-LGBTQ+ crackdown but has since been helped by the Peter Tatchell Foundation.

Dimitri was told ‘only blood’ could ‘wash away the shame’

Chechnya's tyrannical leader Ramzan Kadyrov
Chechnya’s tyrannical leader Ramzan Kadyrov (Yelena AfoninaTASS via Getty Images)

Dimitri explained that after his relatives found out he was gay they “eavesdropped on me”. Following an attempt to escape to live a peaceful life he was caught by police who brought him back to his relatives. 

“I was told that I brought terrible shame to the family and that I needed correction. They started to beat me and said that only my blood would wash away the shame and sin that I brought to the family.  I was beaten with a stick and punched so hard that I lost my teeth in the process.” 

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The torture didn’t stop there and he explained he was living in permanant terror as “so-called ‘honour’ killing is rife” in the country.

After his family informed his older brothers in Chechnya, who worked under Kadyrov, he was subjected to “the most brutal torture”. 

‘Treated like a wild animal’

Many people are protesting against the 'gay genocide' in Chechnya
Activists protest the “gay genocide” in Chechnya (Getty Images)

He shared: “They experimented on me so they could replicate these gruesome techniques on others.

“First, I was put in a pit in a village without food for many days,” he said. During this time Dimitri said he found himself devouring scraps of bread that were thrown down to him as he was “treated like a wild animal”. 

He was further abused by being beaten with hoses and forced to take several pills. In a bid to be freed he agreed the torture was working and was forced into a marriage. 

Now, after pretending to be heterosexual in a bid to survive, he is working to rebuild his life. 

‘Pride can be a party with a message’

LGBTQ+ activist Pliny Soocoormanee told PinkNews that he and others will march at Pride in London for people like Dimitri. 

He said: ”Pride for me is about solidarity and liberation. I march every year for those who can’t or still too afraid as well as it being an act of affirmation.

“We are here, we are queer and we are not going to be stopping. Pride can be a party with a message.” 

Soocoormanee, who is also executive officer at the Peter Tatchell Foundation, added: “This year the Foundation will sending a clear message to our future new prime minister about the need for having a safe heaven for LGBT+ refugees, banning conversion therapy, compensation for victims of homophobic laws and adequate funding for sexual health.” 

Pride in London 2024 takes place on Saturday 29 June, you can follow all of our coverage here.

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