“We violated the honour and reputation of our country by asking for asylum based on our sexual orientation and now they want to punish us.”
By
Michaela Morgan

6 Oct 2017 - 10:45 AM  UPDATED 6 Oct 2017 - 10:45 AM

Refugees who were able to escape Chechnya after being persecuted for their sexuality say there is still a risk that they could be kidnapped and returned to Grozny. 

Two gay Chechens who are now living in Western Europe spoke to Human Rights Watch, saying that they have been contacted by acquaintances who suspiciously wanted to make arrangements to meet. 

“We received text messages from people we met only once or twice in Grozny,” Bula and Zelim (not their real names) said. 

“They say they want to meet with us here in this country or elsewhere in Western Europe. But we suspect they want to trick us and abduct us to Chechnya.”

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It was reported in April this year that Chechen authorities had rounded up and tortured over 100 gay men. The leader of the autonomous Russian region—Ramzan Kadyrov—denied that an anti-gay purge was taking place, saying that gay people did not exist in Chechnya. 

Chechen police were also allegedly telling parents to kill their gay sons in order to preserve their family’s honour. 

“We violated the honour and reputation of our country by asking for asylum based on our sexual orientation and now they want to punish us,” Bula and Zelim said. 

“If not the government, then our families are expected to kill us. This happened to some of our friends."

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Chechen LGBT+ refugees have been welcomed by countries including Canada, France, Germany, and the Netherlands. 

Bula added that his escape has made life difficult for his family members who are still living in Chechnya.

“A few days ago, the police came to my parent’s house in Chechnya," he said. 

“They demanded that I come back. If not, they said they would return to take revenge and arrest my father. Arrest means torture or worse."