MTV has initiated an online campaign to bring visibility to the gay purge in Chechnya. The TV network is encouraging viewers to show their support for the more than 100 gay men, believed to be imprisoned and tortured in concentration camps, by using the hashtag, #EyesOnChechnya.
In April 2017, Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta first reported gay men had been rounded up by Chechen authorities and imprisoned in concentration camps. They've since released the names of 27 men believed to have been murdered.
Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has denied these claims, but not his animosity for gay men. In an interview with HBO's "Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel," Kadyrov said, "We don't have any gays. If there are any, take them to Canada." Kadyrov also spoke in favor of honor killings, the murder of gay people by their families. "Even if it's punishable under the law, we would still condone it," Kadyrov said.
The Human Rights Campaign has urged the U.S. State Department to intervene, but little action has been taken. President Trump hasn't publicly spoken out about the purge, and passed on the opportunity to speak about the matter with Kardyrov's ally Vladimir Putin at the G20 conference. However, U.S State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told the press that the State Department found Kadyrov's recent comments to be "very concerning and also upsetting."
The lack of response from the United States government hasn't stopped celebrities from speaking out about the gay massacre. RuPaul, Sasha Velour, Rita Ora, Lena Dunham, and Mara Wilson have flocked to social media to contribute to MTV's #EyesOnChechnya campaign. Below are a sample of celebrity responses to the Chechen purge:
\u201cWe\u2019ve known about gay men targeted in Chechnya for more than 100 days. Will @whitehouse speak out? #EyesOnChechnya https://t.co/VVHkEyNefF\u201d