Disturbing reports from several global media outlets in the last fortnight have been portraying the lives of gay men in The Chechen Republic. Originally reported by Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta, several reports and eye witness accounts filtering through to a growing number of news media publications are highlighting the inhumane illegal mistreatment of the country’s gay population.
While it’s difficult to determine when exactly this operation began, recent commentary in the British House of Commons alongside protests in Russia and media coverage from The New York Times, Washington Post, Attitude, and The Guardian among others have launched the reality of gay Chechens into the public eye.
According to several media sources gay men are being verbally abused, kidnapped, and tortured through electro-shock by members of the Chechen police force and military.
The presence of detainment centers likened to ‘Gay Concentration Camps’ for those kidnapped has also been reported. Journalists at Novaya Gazeta also claim to have indisputable evidence that (at least) three men have been killed during these abuses. On Sunday the newspaper was the target of several death threats for breaking the story and protests in St. Petersburg ended in Russian police detaining those LGBT activists attempting to raise awareness of those in Chechnya.
What is perhaps most worrying is that the operation seems to be more sinister than a group of rouge policemen and is instead an order from Ramazan Kadryov the country’s president. Kadryov is reported to have vowed to ‘eliminate’ the country’s gay population by the beginning of summer.
What is happening in Chechnya matters and it matters no less so to the world’s club community: Regrettably the global LGBTQ population is no stranger to persecution and it was with the desire to exist in spaces free of maltreatment that many flocked to the bath houses of uptown New York City, forced to remain in the social and economic underclasses of the ‘underground’.
Exclaves like Paradise Garage, The Stonewall, and The Warehouse were the exception rather than the rule forcing most to gather outside the relative safety of institutions.
As house music grew from these spaces it gave people the chance to encounter and accept cultures they knew all too little about. Today it continues to do the same. The House music born from Latino-gay culture became a force capable of uniting people in a space that fostered learning and acceptance.
In return it would become an influence that would allow those on the outside the ability to imagine what life was like for those involved.
House was rough and ready. House was dirty. House was unclean. And while it was able to bring us together it never assimilated us into one homogenous culture standing instead for multiculturalism, acceptance, tolerance, and equality.
We have taken all that is great about House Music Culture (appropriating it as we encountered it for our own purposes) and now members of the gay community, the very same that gave us all that we continue to love about club culture needs us. Club culture stands for the exact opposite of what is happening in Chechnya. It stands for respect. It stands for love. It stands for acceptance of your fellow woman and man.
We can no longer remain silent about the suffering of the gay community in Chechnya. News publications continue to do their job but club magazines need to become far more vocal. If you give a shit speak up. If you can afford to donate to any of the links posted below. Details still remain sparse but we will continue to follow this story in the coming days and weeks.