Reports of a “round up” of 100 gay men in Chechnya sparked international outrage this weekend after a Russian newspaper reported that 3 men had been killed in the process.

The Novaya Gazeta, a Russian newspaper, reported Saturday that they had evidence to prove that Chechen authorities targeted and apprehended 100 gay men. The same report states that during the “round up” at least 3 men were killed.  Although the allegations only come from one source, human rights activists in the region report that they have heard similar rumors over the past week.

Because of the republic’s hostility towards LGBTQ people, confirmation of such rumors by family members is almost impossible to obtain. The Novaya Gazeta states that while 3 men were killed, more could be in danger of being returned to their families under the assumption their family members will carry out “honor killings.”

Chechnya, a former republic of Russia, is known as a highly conservative Muslim state under the leadership of current President Ramzan Kadyrov. Kadyrov has been criticized by human rights activists for encouraging polygamy, passing laws that force women to wear hijabs in public, and subjecting members of the LGBTQ community to discrimination and even violence. The spokesperson for Kadyrov stated that the accusations made by the Novaya Gazeta were “absolute lies” and went on to claim that “you cannot detain and persecute people who simply do not exist in the republic.”

Russia, much like Chechnya, is known for hostile attitudes towards the LGBTQ community, highlighted by the 2013 “gay propaganda” law that sparked international scrutiny. According to this law, propaganda of any “non-traditional” relations cannot be spread among minors with the goal of promoting and protecting conservative values. Although major Russian cities are known to have large LGBTQ underground communities, LGBTQ rights activists still face violence and unlawful detention.

Media resources: The Guardian 4/2/17, 6/11/13 ; NCB 4/3/17 ; The Independent 4/3/17 ; Huffington Post 5/30/15

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