Can an entire government be accused of a hate crime? From our purview, that is exactly what is happening in Chechnya.
Right now, activists and humanitarians all over the world are scrambling to figure out what to do about the Chechen concentration camps persecuting gay men. The atrocities being reported on right now are almost too much to handle: prisoners being taken, murders throughout the republic, torture, people being forced to out their LGBTQ friends and family. It sounds like a story straight from 1944. And it should. Not since Hitler has an actual concentration camp been reported.
People all over the world are trying to figure out how to save those being persecuted. But those closest to the government in Chechnya? Indifference. A spokesman for Ramzan Kadyrov, head of the Chechen Republic, told reporters that “you can’t detain and repress people who simply don’t exist in the republic.”
Russia oversees Chechnya. Any word from them? No. In fact, there has been similar rhetoric coming from the Kremlin for years. President Putin has called for a “cleanse on homosexuality” in the past.
“The region has been hostile to LGBT people for many years,” said Kimahli Powell, executive director of Rainbow Railroad, a nonprofit that helps relocate LGBTQ refugees. “There’s a culture of anti-gay behavior there.” We are urging people to stay informed. This VICE article does a pretty good job of explaining, in detail, what is happening over there.
Your solidarity is important and appreciated. As we continue to try to erase hate in our own communities, we have to remember that in some parts of the world they have much higher hills to climb. But we intend on being their support in any way we can.
The Matthew Shepard Foundation
PS: If you want some more tips on how to help, this OUT.com article has a few!