USA denies visas to gay Russians fleeing torture and murder in Chechnya

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The United States has denied visas for roughly forty gay Chechens now in hiding fearing severe persecution for their sexual identity. On the same day, Russian Human Rights Ombudsperson Tatyana Moskalkova suggested that reports about the alleged persecution of individuals, who were of non-traditional sexual orientations in Chechnya could be a provocation.

Independent Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta first reported the imprisonment and abuse of gay Chechens in April.

The individuals are hiding in various locations around Russian Federation after a wave of kidnappings, torture, and disappearances of gay people were reported in Chechnya, a semi-autonomous region in southern Russian Federation that borders Georgia.

The United States has declined visas to gay Chechens fleeing a wave of kidnappings, torture, and disappearances in the semi-autonomous Russian region, according to the organization Russia LGBT Network.

Svetlana Zakharova, a representative for the group Russia LGBT Network, told BuzzFeed "negotiations have been difficult" with countries that could provide safe haven for these queer refugees.

In response to the abduction, torture and killing of gay men in Chechnya, the Amnesty on Campus group at Victoria University is hosting a sit-in on Saturday 20 May.

"As visa records are confidential under USA law, we are unable to discuss individual cases", they said. "If there were such people in Chechnya, law-enforcement organs wouldn't need to have anything to do with them because their relatives would send them somewhere from which there is no returning", the spokesperson for Chechen president Alvi Karimov told Russian news agency Interfax.

In April, the world was shocked at the revelation of "concentration camps" for LGBT people in Chechnya. Others were returned to their families barely alive from beatings. And in April, Nikki Haley, the US ambassador to the United Nations said that if these claims are true, that "this violation of human rights can not be ignored".

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