Over the last couple of months, the Russian LGBT Network has been doing everything to rescue people who are persecuted in the Chechen Republic because of their (alleged) homosexuality. The Network has been using its best efforts to force the Russian authorities to conduct an effective investigation. Since the beginning of April, more than 120 people applied for emergency assistance through the hotline [email protected]. More than 60 people were evacuated from the region; 27 found sanctuary outside of Russia.


The Russian LGBT-Network expresses its concerns regarding the false investigation and continues to call the Investigative Committee of Russian Federation to urgently initiate a criminal case. In case the Investigative Committee continues to disregard this issue, the Russian LGBT Network will insist on carrying out an investigation with the involvement of international courts.


Today, on the 20th of June, 2017, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) ruled that the so-called anti-gay propaganda law is discriminatory. Igor Kochetkov, the member of the Council of the Russian LGBT Network, gives a brief commentary on what does this decision mean for Russian society.


Now we continue our efforts with the evacuation, which began in early April. Right now, we provide assistance to 50 people. Among those 50 men, there are men who were thrown into prison and tortured there, as well as those for whom the Chechen security searched for. There are also several family members of these men, whom we are helping as well because the overall situation is dangerous for them. As of today, we received calls for assistance from 100 people and we can not predict how much more will be there.


At the beginning of June, sections of Amnesty International held protests outside Russian Embassies around the world. They called for an immediate end to the harassment, illegal detention, and murders of LGBT citizens in the Chechen Republic. Together with LGBT activists, Amnesty International demanded from the Russian and the Chechen authorities to conduct a transparent and fair investigation of this crime against humanity.


On the 27th of May, Viktor Babkin held a single picket in Omsk. He rallied in the city-center with a poster, saying “Homosexuality is not Immoral, Homophobia is Immoral”. The day Babkin chose was not coincidental. On the 27th of May in 1993 Russian authorities decriminalized homosexuality. In the Soviet Penal Code voluntarily engagement in same-sex relations was prosecuted under the article number 121. With his protest, Babkin aimed to attract attention to the problematic position of the LGBT citizens in Russia and to show his solidarity with the LGBT community.


Today, on May 25, 2017, a man came to the office of the Russian LGBT network, who called himself the representative of the Investigation Committee. The man did not introduce himself. According to the guard of the building, the representative of the IC said that he was looking for a specific person, but did not specify who exactly he was interested in.


May 17 is a day that tells us about silence. In particular, it tell us that silence can be deadly dangerous. It's a day that reminds us that it is deadly dangerous to agree with the silence that the homophobic part of our society forces us to engage with.They suggest that we should sit at home and remain invisible. That we should sit at home, that we should pretend that we are the same as they are. Pretend that we share their cowardice, their conformity, their facelessness. But we say no to that! We value our individuality and our freedom. We do not agree to hide it.


Every year on the May 17 people all over the world celebrate the International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia, and Transphobia (IDAHOT). This is one of the most important days for the LGBT community. On May 17, 1990, the World Health Organization (WHO) excluded homosexuality from the international classification of diseases. This marked an immense step towards equality. Since 2004, people celebrate this day worldwide to draw attention to issues of discrimination and violence against LGBT people. This year, a variety of events dedicated to honoring May 17 happened in more than 130 countries, including those 37 countries in which same-sex sexual relations are prohibited by law.


The state can not have a presumption of innocence. Lawyers will probably disagree with me on this matter, but I am convinced of this. The state is guilty by definition if it is being accused of violations of human rights. It must prove that it does not violate human rights. For this to happen we must not be afraid to ask uncomfortable questions, we must not be afraid to reach out to the victims, whoever they are. We must remember how easy it is to deceive us, how easy it is to scare us, with Muslims, Chechens, gays. The capacity of modern media to create an image of an enemy is immense. And then we must not give in to the fascist inside us.