News: Chechnya Gay Purge Victim Comes Forward

Photo Credits: Screengrab from Novaya Gazeta YouTube

For the first time since reports on ‘gay purge’ in Chechnya had surfaced, one of the victims—a man named Maxim Lapunov—had agreed to come forward and speak in front of the camera about his personal ordeal.

Mr. Lapunov, 30, described how he was held for 12 days in a “blood-soaked cell” beaten with sticks, and forced to name other gay men. “They burst in every 10 or 15 minutes shouting that I was gay and they would kill me,” he said in front of a small crowd of human rights activists in a Moscow convention.

“Then they beat me with a stick for a long time: in the legs, ribs, buttocks and back. When I started to fall, they pulled me up and carried on,” Mr. Lapunov added.

“Every day they assured me they would kill me, and told me how.” The reason they gave him for torturing him, Mr. Lapunov said, was that he was a “Russian who came to Chechnya and ‘spoiled’ Chechens.”

Mr. Lapunov is the first to make a public statement such as this one—with his face and name known to everyone—because the other Chechen LGBT victims were afraid of the grave repercussions their family might face should they speak out.

The importance of his coming forward was underscored by the activists. “The authorities’ excuse was that no victims had made statements,” said Tanya Lokshina of Human Rights Watch. “Now they have one, but there’s no investigation. There is a lack of political will.”

Mr. Lapunov was originally from Siberia who reportedly moved to Chechnya. He had been staying there and working for two years when, on March 16, 2017, he was allegedly abducted by “two men he didn’t know.”

Unfortunately, ‘gay purge’ seems to have become the norm in other countries as well. There have been massive arrests of gay and transgender people in countries such as Indonesia, Azerbaijan, Nigeria, Tanzania (in Zanzibar), and Egypt this year.

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  1. JC

    Completely unforgivable that nearly every article on the subject of gay persecution in Chechnya omits the single most important and relevant word: ISLAM.

    • JaysSN

      Even when you include that context, the location matters much more. Not to mention, focusing only on Islam allows for not a single solution.

      • Jodie

        Very true! When I give this article more consideration, I realize that the United States doesn’t really have much moral high ground here. It’s not like our nation’s history ( or for that matter it’s present and it’s future it seems) is bright and beautiful.

        • Guel

          Right! It almost feels like we are steadily headed back to the dark ages. When our own leaders agree with the Islamic world as it pertains to gay men, it is definitely worrisome to say the least.

    • Ciran

      It not PC to name Muslims in this, cuz we all know that Islam is no friend of homosexuals…Christianity as it is practiced as well, but at least many more Christians do not indulge in killing gay men and women like some Muslims do.

    • ISOLTRjock

      Excellent point. The idea that one can paint Judeo-Christian and Islamic nations with the same broad brush regarding human dignity and human rights is evil madness. Islamists are given a license by their 7th Century throwback ideology to rape, torture, and murder “infidels.”
      The delusion that one can paint capitalism and socialism with the same broad brush is similarly insane.
      Let any gay man who thinks that there is a moral equivalence between Judeo-Christian and Islamic cultures go live in an Islamo-Nazi country, like Iran, for a year or two. Good luck not getting hung from a crane.
      And if you think that there is a moral equivalence between capitalism and socialism, why not go live in Venezuela or Cuba for a year or two? If you’re going to Venezuela, take along your own food, bodyguards, toilet paper, medical support staff, drugs, and electricity.

  2. Jodie

    The Soviet Union– because let’s face it, under Putin it still is–is a threat to humanity and humaneness. Maybe our missiles should be aimed a few degrees from North Korea. Yeah, I said it!

  3. Urban

    It is sad. What is scary is how quickly political climates can change attitudes towards the LGBT and other minority communities. When I visited Russia in 2006 and 2007 there was little to no hostilities towards our community – it was pretty much like it was here. There was even enough acceptance that gay couples openly sat in a large area on Nevsky Prospekt, the main street of St Petersburg, without being harassed. There were also bars and clubs and they were not ‘underground.’ I traveled to many cities and it was pretty much the same everywhere. Since then so much has changed. I remind everyone, especially the young… right before the Nazi party came to power Berlin was the gay capital of the world… things can change quickly.

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