Giving Compass' Take:

• Levi Jackman highlights the plight of LGBTQI communities in Chechnya and the ways in which the global community is -and is not - stepping up to help them. 

• What are the immediate and long-term needs of the LGBTQI communities in Chechnya? How can individuals, communities, and governments support sustainable solutions to this problem? 

• Learn about successful efforts to move the needle on opinions of LGBTQ rights

“They told me I wasn’t a human being and deserved to be murdered.”

This is what one Chechen man told a reporter in 2017 after being kidnapped and brutalized for being gay.

I first learned about the Chechen government’s horrific anti-LGBTI crimes against humanity after hearing this man’s story on NPR. This quote in particular stopped me in my tracks.

And then I learned that he was just one of many survivors of such harassment and violence.

Since the Russian republic of Chechnya began its purge of queer people in 2017, hundreds of LGBTI refugees are seeking safety in more LGBTI-friendly countries, but not without consequence. Even when granted asylum in new countries, these refugees continue to live in hiding and fear for their loved ones living back home being identified, held, or executed in the very detention facilities they fled in Chechnya.

In February, the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights issued a public condemnation of the persecution and called on Russian authorities to investigate the situation, which includes two reported deathsas a result of torture. UN experts noted that “abuse inflicted on victims has allegedly become more cruel and violent compared with reports from 2017. It is no longer only gay men in Chechnya who are being targeted, but women also.”

The following month, 30 UN member states delivered a joint statement at the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva that expressed “deep concern about recent reports concerning the renewed persecution of LGBTI persons in Chechnya.”

Yet the identity-driven hate and trauma they’ve endured continues without real consequences in Chechnya. In fact, when the Chechen government was questioned on the matter, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov claimed there are no gay men in Chechnya, saying: “We don’t have those kinds of people here.”

While Canada and the Netherlands have stepped up to offer asylum to these refugees, the U.S. government has not.

Read the full article about LGBTQI communities in Chechnya by Levi Jackman at United Nations Foundation.