Remembering Torture Of Gay Men In Chechnyan “Honor” Crusade

Not every victim of an honor killing is a young girl or woman accused of defiling a family’s honor. Sometimes, members of the LGBTQ community are targeted for persecution as well. We recently discussed the plight of transgender individuals, who are targets of honor killings in Pakistan, India, and some African countries — and become victims of hate crimes at an increased rate in the United States as well.

Today, we’d like to remember Chechnyan persecution of hundreds of gay men in 2017. Reports suggest that members of the Russian LGBTQ community helped many escape the country.

Russian LGBT Network chairperson Tatyana Vinnichenko said, “For the majority of these men, this persecution was unexpected. And now they don’t have any money, they’ve lost their jobs, their families, their official documents, everything. So they come to us for help.”

A Russian newspaper had reported that more than a hundred gay or bisexual men were arrested in Chechnya during a classic witchhunt. Authorities tortured the men with beatings and electric shocks in order to get the men to give up the names of gay friends and acquaintances. At least three of the men were reportedly killed. 

Vinnichenko said the event has sown even more distrust of authorities from the gay and lesbian community. “They are distressed, they can’t sleep, they are depressed — they are in a state of panic. Some are sick, some have infections. Many were beaten in police custody. And there is the trauma they suffered from being electrocuted [in custody]. All that needs medical attention.”

Vinnichenko also said that these same authorities will eventually release the men, but cause additional harm by outing them to relatives. She said, “Essentially they call for the relatives to kill them with their own hands. The men who come to us say they believe that their relatives would kill them in order to clear the family’s reputation.”

And this, of course, is the classic definition of an honor killing.