A few weeks ago, I started seeing dreadful news coming out of Chechnya about gay men—and men suspected of being gay—being rounded up and taken to camps, out of the general populace. That, I felt was shocking enough. And then we start hearing that these men, dragged from their homes and their lives, are being beaten and tortured with electricity. I was horrified; how could humanity possibly wind back seventy years? At the last, most reliable count (discussed in Parliament on 20th April), there had been at least 100 men wounded within this regime, and at least four killed as ‘state-sanctioned’ deaths.
As May rolled in, the situation became bleaker still. There are now reports are of families being pressured to hand their own sons, brothers and cousins over to the authorities under threat of punishment if they continue to shield them. A third, apparently acceptable option, is honour-killing.
The situation is anachronistic and sickening.
The better news is that the Russian LGBT network has been working to evacuate people from the country, and they’ve been effective in doing so; at last count, 40 men have been removed from danger. But there’s a limit to what the Russian LGBT network can achieve without help.
I found myself feeling rather useless in this situation beyond sharing appeal notices on Facebook. Others have not been sitting around, wringing their hands, however. And thank goodness for that! Writers Olivia Helling and Dale Cameron Lowry have been vigorously active in finding ways of helping people to contribute to the Russian LGBT network. They’ve made a direct donations line accessible. Olivia set up an online auction, which Dale has been slaving over to make the admin as easy as possible for people. I’m full of admiration for their commitment and compassion, so that’s why today’s blog is about how to help this cause.
To learn more about the situation in Chechnya — including news updates and how to make a direct donation to a designated charity — visit Readers & Writers for LGBT Chechens
How can book-lovers help?
- Buy books with royalties going to help vulnerable Chechens
- Bid in the Readers & Writers for LGBT Chechens online charity auction
- Sign up to attend our Facebook event and invite friends. It’s a great way to keep up-to-date.
How can authors, publishers and artists help?
If you’re an author or artist who would like help out, please sign up at Authors & Publishers for LGBT Chechens. There, you can also find answers to frequently asked questions about royalty donations, the charitable organizations that are helping LGBT Chechens, and more.
If you want to donate directly (or sign a petition/make your voice heard)
This page on Dale’s site has the best collection of support resources, all in one place: