Persecution of Gays in Chechnya and elsewhere

There are consistent reports coming out of Russia about gay men being arrested, kept in prisons or concentration camps, tortured, made to reveal names of other gay men, and sometimes killed by the Chechen authorities. Chechnya is an extremist Islamic autonomous republic within the Russian Federation, and honor killings of gay man by their families is also a common practice, so many gay men there are forced to marry a woman and keep their sexuality secret. The current purge of gay men is truly horrific, and there have been demonstrations outside Russian embassies and petitions to the Russian government.

The difficulty is short of sending in the tanks again, or threatening to do so, the Russian federal government is powerless to do much apart from tell the Chechen authorities to stop this persecution of gay men. The Russian Federation itself is riddled with homophobia due largely to the influence of the Russian Orthodox Church, though in Chechnya and some other Russian republics it is extremist Islam which is homophobic. Russia has a law, similar to Thatcher’s Section 28, which prohibits the promotion of ‘unnatural’ sexual relations to minors. This has encouraged violent homophobia, and causes Gay Pride marches to be banned and broken up. Any kind of promotion of the gay lifestyle is illegal.

This is in stark contrast to Lenin’s decriminalization of homosexuality soon after the Bolshevik Revolution, though there was a clamp down later under Stalin and later leaders. It is also in marked contrast to the legalization of homosexuality in Soviet-bloc countries like Czechoslovakia and East Germany in the 1960s. However the homophobia in Russia seems to have got much worse since the disintegration of the Soviet Union, an officially atheist state, and the rising influence of organized religion in the form of the Christian Orthodox church and extreme Islam.

Homophobia is also rampant in Saudi Arabia, Qata, the ISIS held areas and other extremist Islamic areas, also in other Christian Orthodox countries like Greece and the Republic of Cyprus. Also in areas where fundamentalist Christianity is prevalent, such as the Southern states of America, especially in rural areas. However it is in the extreme Islamic republics that killing and torture of gay men, and lesbians, is official government policy.

While Russia must do its utmost to halt the pogrom of gay men in Chechnya, the West has a duty to put pressure on countries like Saudi Arabia which it supplies with arms and torture equipment. These supplies should be stopped immediately, as they also find their way from these extremist Islamic states to ISIS where gays are also being murdered.

As to the Chechen situation in Russia, there have already been two wars between Russia and the largely uncontrollable Chechen republic since the fall of the Soviet Union, as Chechnya declared independence in 1991. Chechen terrorists have set off bombs in the Moscow Metro system. The current Chechen leader, approved by Moscow, is guilty of causing this progrom and by publicizing what is going on and showing the world is watching, the Amnesty International tactic for decades, we can only hope the authorities will take notice and stop the persecution. As there are no Chechen embassies to protest outside people have no option other than to demand the Russian Federation itself puts pressure on this semi-independent republic. The fact that Russia is heavily involved in Syria, has a divided Ukraine on its doorstep with a large Russian-speaking population and a hostile rightwing government in Kiev due to a coup, and has also had to build up troops on its Western borders because of a NATO build-up does not exactly help, nor does the fact that Russia itself is increasingly homophobic.

A thoroughly depressing situation to which I can see no easy short-term solution. The MSM giving maximum publicity to the Chechen pogrom and similar persecution in other areas of the world is probably the only thing we can do.

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