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The United States is denying visas to gay and bisexual men seeking asylum amid the ongoing human rights abuses in Chechnya.

This according to organizers with the group Russia LGBT Network, responsible for getting 40 men out of Chechnya, who spoke with BuzzFeed News.

Russia LGBT Network spokesperson Svetlana Zakharova said they are having difficulty securing visas that would allow them to flee the country and find a safe haven from the abuse, calling negotiations with various countries “difficult.”

While she didn’t wish to name all of the countries making it hard for these individuals to find safe passage out of the region, she did say that “we were informed that the US is not going to issue visas for people from Chechnya.”

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The State Department refused to comment, saying, “As visa records are confidential under U.S. law, we are unable to discuss individual cases.”

Men are being rounded up, falsely imprisoned, beaten, and in some cases taken to their families and told to murder them or have their captors do it, according to reports from survivors. Those reports have since been confirmed by groups such as Human Rights Watch.

The situation was first reported on by Russian news outlet Novaya Gazeta. Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has denied the reports, initially claiming they were not possibly true because in his estimation gay and bisexual men don’t exist in Chechnya.

The international headlines, in addition to causing some Novaya Gazeta to have to flee the country, brought statements from world leaders.

U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley spoke out against the situation, but it was later revealed in a White House press conference that President Trump, who has remained silent on the issue so far, had not brought up the topic during a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov. Nor could Principal Deputy Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders say if Trump had been debriefed on the issue.

Russian President Vladimir Putin went along with Kadyrov at first, until international pressure caused him to call for an investigation. It ended nearly as fast as it began, with no evidence of wrongdoing on anyone’s part.

“The United States continues to be concerned about the situation in the Republic of Chechnya, where credible reports indicate at least 100 men have been detained on the basis of their sexual orientation,” a State Department spokesperson told BuzzFeed News.

In a sad bit of irony, this news breaks on the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia (IDAHOT), the organizers of which highlighted in a statement that many of the day’s actions would draw attention to the situation in Chechnya.

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1 COMMENT

  1. LGBT Turkey
    Men fleeing Chechnya’s ‘gay purge’ have been denied US visas
    As the situation in Chechnya continues to intensify with very little intervention from the international community, gay and bisexual men from the region are fleeing for their lives to escape detention, abuse, and possibly being killed.
    Novaya Gazeta first reported in March that around 100 gay men had been rounded up by police and detained in what is widely being referred to as a modern-day ‘concentration camp’.
    Human Rights Watch later confirmed the horrific reports, adding that the information coming through was “consistent” with “numerous trusted sources” they had spoken to on the ground in Russia.
    But more recently there have been further terrible accounts of young gay men being murdered by their own family members, as authorities tell parents to kill them – or they’ll do it themselves.
    In one chilling instance, a 17-year-old male was pushed from a 9th floor balcony by his own uncle.
    The Russian LGBT Network have been working hard to help men escape the persecution, and have so far managed to get 40 people into hiding in other areas of Russia.
    However, the organisation are working hard to get these men visas as their lives are in danger if they remain within the country.
    Spokesperson Svetlana Zakharova told BuzzFeed News that so far they have been unable to secure any of the 40 men a US visa so they can get them to safety.
    It means that some of the victims have already left Russia without any documentation for fear they’ll get caught any day.
    When asked why the US had denied these Chechen men visas, they wouldn’t comment.
    “As visa records are confidential under U.S. law, we are unable to discuss individual cases,” they said.
    Meanwhile, Lithuania has become the first country to grant asylum to gay and bisexual Chechens needing to escape their home country.
    What’s more, over $250,000 has been raised by a handful of Facebook campaign for the non-profit organisation Rainbow Railroad, which is currently helping victims escape Chechnya’s ongoing detention and abuse of gay men.
    The Kremlin and Chechen government have both denied allegations that gay men are being detained and tortured in the region.
    That’s despite Chechnya’s president, Ramzan Kadyrov, having publicly declared that he wants all LGBT+ people in the country to be eliminated by May 26, which marks the start of Muslim holiday, Ramadan.
    Men fleeing Chechnya’s ‘gay purge’ have been denied US visas

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