More than 340,000 people have signed a petition demanding the EU fight back against the rising homophobic hate in Poland’s “LGBT-free” zones.
The petition was launched by the global equality movement All Out and delivered to EU commissioner for equality, Helena Dalli, on Tuesday (September 22).×
It urges her to denounce the discriminatory policies and pass legislation on hate crimes to protect the Polish LGBT+ community.
“LGBT+ people in Poland are under attack,” it reads, describing the spread of “LGBT-free zones” and aggressive “nationalist hooligans and far-right groups” at Pride.
“We call on you to condemn these acts of violence and discrimination and to urge Polish authorities to protect the LGBT+ community and to pass legislation on hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”
Dalli met with activists from All Out, Lambda Warszawa and Kampania Przeciwko Homofobii (Campaign Against Homophobia) as she accepted the petition earlier this week.
“No place for humanity free zones in the EU or anywhere around the world,” she declared on Twitter after their meeting, echoing the words of European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen in her first state of the union speech.https://platform.twitter.com/embed/index.html?creatorScreenName=PinkNews&dnt=false&embedId=twitter-widget-0&frame=false&hideCard=false&hideThread=false&id=1308359353905360899&lang=en-gb&origin=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.pinknews.co.uk%2F2020%2F09%2F24%2Fpoland-lgbt-free-zone-petition-all-out-eu-intervene-helena-dalli-homophobic-hate%2F&siteScreenName=PinkNews&theme=light&widgetsVersion=219d021%3A1598982042171&width=550px
“Hate and violence against LGBT+ people in Poland have reached a boiling point,” said Matt Beard, executive director of All Out.
He and his fellow activist Marcin Rodzinka, co-chair of KPH, called on the commission to “immediately” trigger infringement procedure against Poland, acting under Article 7(1) of the Treaty on European Union (TEU).
“LGBT+ [people] in Poland still have some hope left and the EU cannot leave them alone. Where the human rights are violated, we need to see a clear opposition and strong action,” Rodzinka added.
Police in Russia have detained over 30 people for protesting the arrest of Yulia Tsvetkova, an LGBT+ and feminist activist charged with spreading ‘gay propaganda’.
Yulia Tsvetkova, 27, faces a six year sentence for running a social media page called Vagina Monologues, which encouraged people to share artistic depictions of vaginas to “remove the taboo”.
She was charged with the distribution of “criminal pornography” under Russia’s gay propaganda law, which prohibits the positive depiction of LGBT+ people.
On Saturday (June 27) more than 30 people, mostly women, gathered in in central Moscow to stage separate one-person protests against Tsvetkova’s charges.
Participants stood in line to picket one at a time, with one holding a placard that read: “Today they send [us] to prison for pictures, tomorrow they will send [us] to prison for letters? Freedom for Yulia Tsvetkova!”
According to the OVD-Info group that monitors political arrests in Russia, at least 38 people were detained and taken to a police station. It was not clear if they would be charged.
Russian law usually permits single pickets to be held without permission, but in recent weeks there have been numerous cases of police arresting protesters on the grounds that they violated the ban on mass gatherings imposed during the pandemic.
Police declined to comment on the arrests when questioned by The Guardianon Saturday.
Russia is currently in the midst of a referendum a package of constitutional amendments that will take Russia’s opposition to homosexuality a step further by enshrining traditional “family values” as part of the constitution.
Among the amendments proposed by Putin is one that would legally define marriage as a union between a man and a woman. Russian LGBT+ activists fear that, if passed, it would permanently block same-sex marriage or adoption from ever being legalised in the country.
The referendum has been accompanied by a wave of homophobic rhetoric and viral campaign ads denouncing the LGBT+ community.
Presumptive Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden has accused Donald Trump of giving “safe harbour” to anti-LGBT+ hate.
In a message marking the International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia, Biden called out the Trump administration’s “odious” agenda on LGBT+ issues.
He wrote: “The Trump-Pence administration has done everything it can to undermine LGBT+ rights: giving safe harbour to hate and rolling back protections for LGBT+ persons, blocking the ability of transgender individuals to openly serve their country, denying LGBT+ people access to critical health care, and failing to address the epidemic of violence against transgender people, among other odious policies.
“Today, many LGBT+ people in the United States live in fear, and LGBT+ activists in other countries, who are often fighting desperately for their rights and personal safety, are no longer sure that the United States is their friend and ally.”
Democrat vows to ‘reinvigorate’ efforts to support LGBT+ rights internationally.
Biden stressed that if-elected, he would work across international boundaries to “eliminate discrimination and violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity”.
He wrote: “As president, I will reinvigorate and expand US efforts to advance the human rights of LGBT+ people at home and around the world.
“The United States will again be a beacon of hope for people anywhere in the world who suffer violence and discrimination for the simple fact of who they are or who they love.
“We will strengthen the coalition of countries determined to eliminate discrimination and violence based on sexual orientation and gender identity. Anything less would be un-American.”
LGBT+ rights group are falling in behind Joe Biden.
Human Rights Campaign endorsed the former vice president earlier this month.
HRC president Alphonso David said: “This November, the stakes could not be higher. Far too many LGBT+ people, and particularly those who are most vulnerable, face discrimination, intimidation, and violence simply because of who they are and who they love.
“But rather than have our backs, Donald Trump and Mike Pence have spent the last three and a half years rolling back and rescinding protections for LGBT+ people.
“Joe Biden will be a president who stands up for all of us. HRC and our more than three million members and supporters will work day and night to ensure he is the next president of the United States.”
HRC says that ahead of the 2020 election, it has identified seven key target states – Arizona, Michigan, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania Texas and Wisconsin – where there are 3.4 million voters who support equality “at risk of not turning out” on election day.
Virginia state Del. Danica Roem (D-Manassas) on Tuesday defeated Republican challenger Kelly McGinn.
Roem defeated McGinn by 57-43 percent margin.
Roem — a former journalist who has represented the 13th District in the Virginia House of Delegates since 2018 — is the first openly transgender person seated in any state legislature in the U.S. Roem is the first openly trans state legislator re-elected.
Her support of the expansion of Virginia’s Medicaid program and efforts to reduce traffic congestion on Route 28 are among the issues on which she campaigned. Family Foundation Action, an anti-LGBTQ group with which McGinn has strong ties, and the Prince William County Republican Committee are among those that attacked Roem based on her gender identity.
“To the people of the 13th District: Thank you so much for the confidence you’ve shown in my team and me by such an overwhelming margin,” tweeted Roem after she won re-election. “I’m grateful to represent you because of who you are — never despite it.”
Roem spoke to supporters who were attending an Election Night party at City Tavern in Manassas the Manassas and Manassas Park Cities Democratic Committee organized.
“The way that we won this race was by taking care of our constituents for the last two years,” said Roem. “It was by doing what the people asked us to do.”
LGBTQ activists across the country applauded Roem’s re-election.
“Danica Roem has once again made history, becoming the longest-serving and first openly transgender elected official to be re-elected in our nation’s history,” said Human Rights Campaign President Alphonso David in a statement.“Throughout her tenure in the House of Delegates, Roem has remained focused on the needs of her constituents, despite hateful and divisive attacks from anti-LGBTQ groups and her opponents. From expanding Medicaid and providing health care to 400,000 Virginians to improving Route 28, Delegate Roem has been an effective leader in Richmond — and she isn’t finished yet.”
LGBTQ Victory Fund President Annise Parker echoed David.
“In 2017, Danica wrote the playbook on how transgender candidates can defeat anti-LGBTQ opponents through authenticity and attention to everyday issues — and her reelection victory sets it in stone,” said Parker in a press release. “Voters did not head to the polls to make history, yet they proved trans candidates can win battleground races in battleground states despite transphobic attacks from opponents.”
“Danica inspired trans people across the nation to run for office,” she added. “Her reelection proves that political revolution is a lasting transformation — not an aberration.”
Daye Pope of the Trans United Fund in a fundraising appeal it sent to supporters described Roem’s re-election as “a victory for trans rights and for working people everywhere.” Roem referred to her constituents when the Washington Blade asked her at City Tavern whether she considers herself a pioneer.
“The people who I represent said, ‘Yeah we know she’s trans and she’s a good legislator and she’s great at constituent service and we think that she’s doing a good job,’” she said after she spoke to her supporters.
“I hope the message that sends to trans people around the country is that politics is open to you too, and not just politics but whatever you want to pursue in life it’s open to you too and people will actually respect your right to do it,” she added.
After enduring anti-gay comments on the job, snide remarks about playing in a gay softball league and ultimately termination, Gerald Bostock finally had his day in court.
But not just any court — the U.S. Supreme Court.
The outcome of his case, which alleges anti-gay discrimination is a form of sex discrimination, and thus prohibited under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, will have historic impact on LGBT rights throughout the United States.
In a sit-down interview at the Washington Blade office on Monday — the day before the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in his case — Bostock said being at the forefront of the gay rights movement is something he never envisioned.
“It’s exciting, of course, but at the same time…it’s very surreal,” Bostock said. “You know, I didn’t ask for any of this. But what I’ve learned through my journey, and through my experience with this is that it’s so much more than just me, this is such an issue of national importance. And it impacts so many people, millions and millions of people, and somebody needed to stand up and face this head on.”
Bostock, 55, began working in 2013 for Clayton County as the child welfare services coordinator for the Juvenile Court of Clayton County. Over this time, he was given primary responsibility for the Clayton County Court Appointed Special Advocates program, or CASA. The initiative oversees volunteers working to help at-risk children in the juvenile court system.
Under his leadership, Bostock was given favorable performance reviews. In 2007, Clayton County CASA received the Program of Excellence Award from Georgia CASA. In 2010, it was the first county in the Atlanta area to supply a volunteer to every neglected or abused child in the juvenile court system.
Things changed in recent years. Bostock, who’s gay, became involved in 2013 with the Hotlanta Softball League, a gay recreational sports affiliation. Subsequently, Bostock alleges, his participation in the league and his sexual orientation were openly criticized on the job.
In April 2013, Clayton County told Bostock it was conducting an internal audit on the CASA program funds. Bostock, who insists he never engaged in any misconduct with regard to the program funds, alleges Clayton County initiated the audit as a pretext to discriminate against him for being gay.
In May 2013, during a meeting of the Friends of Clayton County CASA Advisory Board where Bostock’s supervisor was present, at least one person disparaged Bostock’s sexual orientation and his participation in the Hotlanta Softball League.
One month later, Bostock was fired. The stated reason for his termination was “conduct unbecoming of a county employee.”
Bostock, who insists he did nothing wrong and was fired for being gay, said he has suffered significant hardship after losing his job despite excelling in his role.
“I had throughout my tenure with Clayton County, obviously, great performance reviews, again, the success that we were having, which impacted so many children that were innocent victims in this,” Bostock said. “So imagine having all that yanked away from you, and your reputation, you know, ruined within the community that you love, and where you live.”
A spokesperson for Clayton County declined to comment on Bostock’s allegations of anti-gay discrimination, citing a general practice of not commenting on pending litigation.
Bostock filed his first lawsuit alleging anti-gay discrimination in May 2016. But the Eleventh Circuit has precedent indicating anti-gay discrimination is not unlawful. Bostock was unsuccessful at the trial court level and before the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals.
In May 2018, Bostock filed a petition with the Supreme Court seeking redress and a finding that anti-gay discrimination in the workplace is a form of sex discrimination, therefore illegal under Title VII. In April, the court agreed to review the case along with two other cases alleging anti-LGBT discrimination.
“Being successful, that means I’m able to paint my own portrait, the way it should be painted and not by somebody else, especially in such a negative light,” Bostock said. “It also means that I get to come back to the 11th Circuit in Georgia and have my day in court to not only clear my name, but to restore my reputation. But beyond that, it means that, again, nobody will have to go through this experience.”
For those who say the fight for gay rights is over, Bostock’s case is a stark reminder of the work that remains unfinished. In 30 states, no law protects LGBT people from discrimination, and the federal civil rights law contains no explicit protections for them.
“I say that Atlanta is a great community to live in, and I shouldn’t have to move from what I call home, which is Atlanta,” Bostock said. “It shouldn’t be based on the geographical luck of the draw.”
The evidence of ongoing struggles for LGBT people, Bostock said, is not just his own termination, but the harm it has caused for at-risk LGBT youth under his watch.
“What about the children in Clayton County in foster care that identify as LGBTQ?” Bostock said. “They’re probably in state care and custody, because when a parent or parents found out that they are gay, they were kicked out of their home, and were roaming the streets until they were picked up and placed into care. What kind of message does that send to those children? To me, it sends a very clear, homophobic message that you’ve lost a positive role model in your life when they fired Gerald Bostock.”
Brian Sutherland, an attorney with the Atlanta-based law firm Buckley Beal LLP who’s representing Bostock, echoed the sense “the fight for gay rights is absolutely not over,” citing states with no laws against anti-LGBT workplace discrimination.
“And I think also, you know, something I’ve been thinking about because of what’s bit sadly been in the news lately is incidents of bullying and violence, and situations where young gay people are hurting themselves sometimes because of this,” Sutherland said.
Bostock’s case is unique among the three before the Supreme Court because a private law firm, not the American Civil Liberties Union, is taking the lead on it. Further, the case reached the court as the result of a petition from an LGBT worker, not a company accused of anti-LGBT discrimination.
Although the petition to court was submitted in May 2018 just before U.S. Associate Justice Anthony Kennedy — who gained a reputation as an LGBT ally — announced he’d step down from the court, it was a risky move.
After all, the resulting decision on the increasingly conservative court could either lead to an affirmation LGBT people are protected under federal civil rights law, or a decision saying no such protections exist whatsoever.
Sutherland, however, said other LGBT legal groups have been “absolutely helpful” in the efforts with Bostock’s litigation.
“We stand united with all the folks that are fighting for gay rights,” Sutherland said. “I, myself, well used to be an attorney for the ACLU. So I was very happy that the ACLU is part of the representation for the case that’s been consolidated with ours.”
In the other two cases where the ACLU is the lead, the plaintiffs are Donald Zarda, a now deceased skydiver who alleged he was fired from his job for being gay, and Aimee Stephens, a transgender woman who was terminated from her job at Harris Funeral Homes when she announced she’d transition.
“I think that, you know, thankfully, there are a lot of organizations that are focused on the issues affecting the LGBT community,” Sutherland said. “And we’re just very proud to represent Gerald and also to play a part in the struggle.”
Now that the case has been argued before the Supreme Court, it’s time to wait until the decision comes down. It’s expected well before the court’s term ends in June 2020.
Regardless of the outcome, Bostock said he’s proud of his work at Clayton County and his pursuit of justice.
“I’m very proud of who I am, and I’m proud of the man I’ve become,” he said. “And I’m very proud of the hard work and successes that we were able to have under my leadership in Clayton County, especially because it impacted so many innocent lives. And you know, nobody’s going to take that away from me. Nobody, especially not Clayton County.”
Palestinian Authority (PA) police also issued an official statement on August 18 encouraging members of the public to report on the activities of LGBT+ groups.
Palestinian LGBT+ group Al-Qaws says that the PA police statement “promotes incitement against Al-Qaws” and followed an “unprecedented” attack on the group via its social-media channels.
Al-Qaws had been planning a “queer camp” for the end of August in Nablus, northern West Bank.
“The statement promotes incitement against Al-Qaws – and LGBTQ Palestinians – by encouraging members of society to report on Al-Qaws activities. Al-Qaws has since denounced such fear-mongering by Palestinian authorities,” the group said in an online statement.
“Al-Qaws has refused the ban on its activities and noted it will continue its work to fight patriarchy, colonialism and homophobia across historical Palestine,” the statement said.
While LGBT+ activities are officially banned in the West Bank, Al-Qaws has suggested five ways to support Palestinian queers.
Centre Palestinian LGBT+ voices.
“We are constantly talked about but our voices are rarely heard,” said Al-Qaws.
“When reporting on issues that pertain to LGBTQ Palestinians, just ask yourself: whose voice does this story centre?”
“Come talk to us and hear our perspective. Do not simply copy and paste translated Hebrew/Israeli media to tell our story. Al-Qaws activists and staff always provide our names when interviewed, so if you read an article/post with a claimed quote from us with no name attributed, you should know it is not from us.”
Colonialism, patriarchy and homophobia are all connected.
“Singling out incidents of homophobia in Palestinian society ignores the complexities of Israel’s colonisation and military occupation being a contributing factor to Palestinian LGBTQ oppression,” Al-Qaws said.
“We ask that you situate Palestinian LGBTQ oppression within the larger context of Israeli occupation, colonialism, patriarchy and homophobia.”
Steer clear of pink-washing.
“Perpetuating tiresome tropes of presenting Palesitnians as inherently oppressive and Israel as a liberal state that protects LGBTQ rights is counter-productive and factually baseless,” Al-Qaws said.
“Our struggle as queer Palestinians is against Israeli colonialism as much as it is against homophobia and patriarchy in Palestine.”
“Israel uses pink-washing tactics to lie about ‘saving’ LGBTQ Palestinians from their society. We ask that you steer away from these lies that are intentionally used to justify their colonisation of Palestine.”
Understand that Al-Qaws’ priority is community organising.
“We are a small team of dedicated activists who believe change comes from working within our local context,” said Al-Qaws.
“We put enormous daily and strategic efforts in our local grassroots advocacy organising in Palestine. Therefore, and especially in such a crisis, we prioritise providing education and safety to our communities first.”
Support Al-Qaws’ work.
Practically, this includes following them on social media and sharing their resources.
“We believe in the power of people to make social change possible,” Al-Qaws said.
“Talk to your friends and family about the importance of standing up against bigotry towards LGBTQ people, and make sure that your vision of liberation and freedom in Palestine includes us all.”
This crowd-pleaser Italian rom-com is the tale of two polar opposite families who have unwitting been brought together for a summer vacation because the two patriarchs have a secret they want to share.
The setting is a stunning seaside mansion which is the home of the rather grand art dealer Toni (FABRIZIO BENTIVOGLIO) who has invited his pot-smoking hippy sister, and his two daughters Olivia a famous actress and Penny (JASMINE TRINCA) a deeply unhappy kindergarten principal. Tony has lent the mansion’s guest house to Sandro (FILIPPO SCICCHITANO) and his pregnant wife Carolina, and Sandro’a father Carlo (ALESSANDRO GASSMANN), who hasn’t been the same since his wife died. They run a small family fish store on the outskirts of Rome.
Toni shares his bombshell news at dinner with his family when he tells them he is getting married again. This time to Carlo, who is having problems telling his own family the news. Most of the them are shocked but delighted with the news except for Penny and Sandro who vow together that they will do their best to stop the wedding ever happening
Penny is still carrying abandonment issues of when she was a child when Toni was very much an absent father out having a good time, whereas Sandro is a hot bloodied and very excitable macho Italian man who cannot control his homophobia. Their actions result in some hilarious comic scenes in these rather charming feel-good film where you are always sure that whatever happens, love will win out in the end.
It’s a gentle dig at their own country where same-sex marriage is still illegal, but the issue here is not of the political consequences but how these two men who are both grandfathers can reconcile themselves, and their extended families to the reality of their relationship.
It’s a joyous wee film which is like a breath of fresh air and which deals with a hot button topic without ever resorting to getting heavy or lapsing into cliched scenarios.
The LGBT Community Center of New York City, with support from Google.org, has worked to preserve LGBTQ+ history for future generations by extending the Stonewall National Monument from its physical location in New York City to a digital experience that can be accessed by everyone, everywhere.
Stonewall Forever is the result of the LGBT Community Center’s efforts. It’s a living monument to Pride, connecting diverse voices from the Stonewall era to the millions of voices in today’s LGBTQ+ community. The monument features digitized historical artifacts, oral histories capturing the early days of the movement, a short documentary by Ro Haber that highlights unheard stories from the LGBTQ+ community, and photos and messages from people around the world.
You can experience Stonewall Forever online and become a part of the living history of the LGBTQ+ community by adding your own story to the digital monument. If you’re in Christopher Park in New York City, you can also experience it live through an augmented reality (AR) app.
Stonewall Forever debuts during the 50-year commemoration of the uprising and as New York hosts WorldPride during Pride 2019, a monthlong celebration and focus on LGBTQ rights through parades, rallies and other activities.
In 2016, President Barack Obama designated 7.7 acres along Christopher Street in Greenwich Village the Stonewall National Monument, the first national monument dedicated to LGBTQ rights. Stonewall Forever will be its digital extension.
“Stonewall is such a big moment in our history,” says Glennda Testone, executive director of New York’s LGBT Community Center, which is launching Stonewall Forever with support from Google. “It is what created the modern day civil rights movement; it’s a symbol for LGBTQ equality around the globe.”
Beyond our support of Stonewall Forever, we’re launching Pride Forever, a campaign honoring the past, present, and future of the LGBTQ+ community. This theme is rooted in sharing the past 50 years of global LGBTQ+ history with our users. Today’s interactive Google Doodle celebrates 50 years of Pride by taking us through its evolution over the decades, with animated illustrations by Doodler Nate Swinehart.
Google Arts & Culture is also preserving even more archives and stories from LGBTQ history, in partnership with The Center, GLBT Historical Society of San Francisco, the National Park Service’s Stonewall Monument, and Cyark. The collection includes never-before-seen photos and videos, 3D models of the Stonewall monuments, and a virtual walking tour of LGBTQ sites in the Village.
Google donated $1.5 million to help create the project. The 50th anniversary of Stonewall is also celebrated in today’s Google Doodle.
“The way we see it, our beer is for everyone to enjoy, so we are looking forward to seeing Pride bottles at bars throughout the month of June and beyond,” he said.
“With the release of these new bottles, we hope to create something that everyone can feel proud to hold during Pride month that also makes a positive impact for GLAAD’s initiatives and the LGBTQ+ community overall.”
“The way we see it, our beer is for everyone to enjoy, so we are looking forward to seeing Pride bottles at bars throughout the month of June and beyond.”
– Vice president of marketing for Bud Light, Andy Goeler
Meanwhile, Zeke Stokes, chief programs officer for GLAAD, welcomed the initiative.
‘Bud Light stood with the community at a time when many brands did not’
“For twenty consecutive years, Bud Light has partnered with GLAAD in its mission to accelerate acceptance of LGBTQ people.
“Bud Light stood with the community at a time when many brands did not, and their continued outspoken support sets the bar for other global brands.”
The bottles will make an appearance at The Governors Ball Music Festival in New York City.
This is not the first time the beer brand has come out in support of the LGBT+ community. In 2013, the company supported the introduction of same-sex marriage in the US.
A number of brands have appealed to the LGBT+ community with pride themed goods
A number of brands have tapped into Pride in recent years. Last month, beer company DC Brau announced that they will be releasing a limited edition can that honours Marsha P. Johnson for Washington DC Pride.
Johnson was an Arican-American transgender woman and drag performer who played a key role in the 1969 Stonewall Riots.
Meanwhile, Converse last month announced the release of its Pride collection for 2019. The soles of the shoes feature the rainbow colours, and the shoe also features the transgender flag colours.
Graphic new evidence has emerged of the torture of gay men at the hands of authorities in Chechnya. The new evidence comes from the most recent crackdown of the LGBTI community.
Earlier this year new reports revealed Chechnya had conducted another round up of LGBTI people in its ‘gay purge’. Authorities rounded up about 40 people and detained them at the Grozny Internal Affairs Department in the region’s capital. Two people died as a result of torture.
Chechnya, a Russian federal subject in the Northern Caucasus, began its ‘gay purge’ in 2017. It is a highly conservative majority-Muslim society and homosexuality is generally viewed as severely tainting family honor.
But a new report from Human Rights Watch (HRW) revealed the accounts of four men detained. The men were detained between three and 20 days. Police officials kicked them with booted feet, beat them sticks and polypropylene pipes. Three of them were tortured with electric shocks. One was raped with a stick.
First hand accounts
‘They screamed at me. One of them started kicking me, I dropped to the floor, flat on my stomach… Another one then beat me with a stick, from the waist down, he was hitting me very hard for some five minutes,’ said Anzor*, 29.
‘Then they made me kneel on the floor and put metal clips on my thumbs [the wires were hooked to a device delivering electric shocks], he turned the knob [of the device], first slowly and then faster and faster… With every turn, my hands bounced up and excruciating pain went through them…
‘He stopped when I screamed my heart was about to burst. They took the clips off and my hands were heavy and felt dead.’
Anzor described how police beat and humiliated him and Aslanbek in front of the other inmates:
‘They were three or five [police], I don’t quite recall but one of them, Maga, had a stick with a black handle,’ he said.
‘They yelled, “Where are the pansies?” [and] began to humiliate us, verbally, using obscene words, calling us fags, asking which one of us is active, which one passive, whether we derived pleasure [from having sex with a man].
‘And all the inmates were watching… They hit [us] on the head with their sticks… Then, they left but another three officers walked in.
‘They were coming in groups for a long time – smaller groups and bigger groups…[T]hey entertained themselves by mocking us, beating us.’
The other men described being deprived of food and water, with some chained to radiators in blacked-out rooms.
Family honor killings
They all said police interrogated them under torture. Police also demanded they identify other gay men in their social circles, in some cases showing them photographs. Police seized the detainees’ cell phones for the same purpose.
One man said the police handed him over to his family, exposing his sexual orientation and indirectly encouraging his family members to kill him. Some of those interviewed said this happened in at least two other cases. In at least three cases, police demanded large sums of money for the men’s release.
Impunity sanctions torture
‘There wasn’t anything remotely resembling an effective investigation into the anti-gay purge of 2017, when Chechen police rounded up and tortured dozens of men they suspected of being gay,’ said Rachel Denber, deputy Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch.
‘Impunity for the 2017 anti-gay purge has sanctioned a new wave of torture and humiliation in Chechnya.’
Three of the men said the police shaved off their beards and hair or forced inmates to shave each other’s heads.
Police officers also humiliated them by probing into the details of their lives, using homophobic slurs, exposing them as gay to other inmates, and forcing them to undress. Police also forced several of the presumed gay inmates to clean the toilet and wash floors and doors along a corridor, making it clear to them and the other inmates that the gay detainees were given ‘women’s work’ as a form of humiliation.
Chechen authorities have continued to deny reports of the new wave of persecution.
‘This is an absolute lie… There were no detentions on grounds of sexual orientation in the indicated periods in the Chechen Republic,’ said presidential spokesperson, Alvi Karimov, in January.
Human rights groups and LGBTI advocates have called on Russian authorities to speak out or act against the ‘gay purge’. But Russian authorities have not commented on the allegations nor investigated.
In May 2018, Russia’s justice minister, Aleksander Konovalov, told the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC): ‘The investigations that we carried out… did not confirm evidence of rights’ violations, nor were we even able to find representatives of the LGBT community in Chechnya.’
In March, 30 countries supported a joint statement at the UNHRC. The statement expressed deep concern about reports of the persecution and called for a thorough and impartial investigation.
‘Russian authorities should immediately investigate the new wave of torture and humiliation by the Chechen police of men they believe to be gay and, finally, carry out an effective investigation into the purge of 2017,’ Denber said.
‘The investigations should be conducted at the federal level with security guarantees provided to victims and witnesses who come forward, and their families. Otherwise, we can expect further episodes of this depraved abuse.’