[JURIST] According a Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] report [text], Chechen police have rounded up, beaten and humiliated dozens of men who are suspected of being gay or bisexual in an attempt to purge them from society. The report contains several interviews with victims who have been persecuted under a campaign against homosexuality that began in early spring. Some have been forcibly disappeared while others are returned to their families, starved and barely alive. Homophobia is a prolific issue in Chechnya, a traditionally Muslim and highly conservative region. Ramzan Kadyrov, Chechnya's leader, has denied the abusive round-ups but the report issued by HRW shows that they were sanctioned by top-level authorities. Chechnya's leadership said it was willing to comply with federal inquiries while simultaneously denying the existence of homosexuals in the country and berating journalists for questioning the situation. Giving in to mounting international pressure, Russian President Vladimir Putin [BBC profile] said he would speak to the interior minister and prosecutor general about the reports. Many of the men who have been released fled Chechnya but remain at risk while still in Russia where they can be reached by Chechen security forces and turned over by their own families.
News of the conditions faced by those perceived to apart of the LGBT community in Chechnya was first reported by Novaya Gazeta [report, translated]. In April Chechen authorities denied that gay people live in Chechnya, which was concerning to UN experts. In July the UN Human Rights Council [official website] voted in favor of [JURIST report] appointing an independent expert to report on and investigate worldwide violence and discrimination against the LGBT community. Since then, UN human rights expert have provided reports of other countries dictating their discriminatory policies against the LGBT community, such as the report [JURIST report] conduct in Thailand in November. That same month, a group of UN human rights experts expressed concern [JURIST report] over countries attempting to retroactively block a mandate of an independent expert to investigate sexual orientation and gender identity-based rights abuses.