Activists helping gay and bisexual men attempting to escape persecution in the Russian region of Chechnya have reported difficulty getting visas for the men.
The Chechen government has repeatedly denied credible claims that at least 100 men have been detained and violently tortured – several to death – because of their homosexuality in “secret prisons” in the region.
The Russian LGBT Network said this week they’d received requests from more than 80 people who require assistance, and around 40 people have been evacuated from the region.
A spokesperson from the organisation told BuzzFeed that the 40 or so survivors were in hiding in Russia and “negotiations have been difficult” with representatives of countries that could provide safe refuge for them. The spokesperson did not name the countries.
A handful of the gay Chechens fled without visas because they believed the danger of staying in Russia was too great, Buzzfeed reported.
But the eastern European nation of Lithuania has granted visas to two of the men, the Baltic News Service reported this week.
“We have consistently raised these issues both within the EU and in the parliamentary structures of the Council of Europe – regarding the possibility of helping and, if necessary, granting asylum,” Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius was quoted as saying.
— BNS Lithuania (@BNSLithuania) May 17, 2017
Today is zero-tolerance day against hatred, fear, discrimination of all forms of sexuality. Denying reality is not an option | #IDAHOT2017
— Linas Linkevicius (@LinkeviciusL) May 17, 2017
Attendees at candlelight vigils in Melbourne, Sydney and Hobart this week called on the Australian government to offer refuge to the Chechen men. A vigil will be held on the Sunshine Coast on Friday night (May 19).
The Russian LGBT Network said they’re preparing a comprehensive report on the situation in Chechnya, and expect to release it by the end of the month.