After reports of gay men in Chechnya being sent to internment camps and murdered, it’s now been reported that the US is turning away gay men seeking refuge.
It was first reported by Russian independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta that over 100 gay and bisexual men had been detained by authorities. Since then, we’ve seen reports of Chechen officials telling parents to kill their gay children or police will.
According to the Russia LGBT Network, the United States has declined visas to gay Chechens seeking refuge. Around 40 men are currently in hiding in other parts of Russia, having difficulties securing visas. Only two have managed to secure visas while a handful have fled Russia without visas.
The Russia LGBT Network has been in negotiations with representatives of other countries that could provide safe refuge. Although the spokesperson could not provide names of countries from which they’re currently attempting to secure visas, they told Buzzfeed News, “We were informed that the US is not going to issue visas for people from Chechnya."
Meanwhile, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov denies any persecution of gays and claims Chechnya "does not have this phenomenon called non-traditional sexual orientation." He’s been accused of having his critics hunted down. The reporters who broke the story have fled Russia for their own safety after their reports were confirmed.
Although Vladimir Putin backed an investigation earlier this month, a letter to an Israeli newspaper from the Russian Embassy suggested the investigation was almost immediately concluded and found "there are no victims of persecution, threats or violence.”