International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia

By Tarah Demant, Senior Director, Gender, Sexuality, and Identity Program, AIUSA

Today, May 17, is International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia, and Biphobia. Around the world, LGBT activists and allies will be celebrating and demanding LGBT rights.

This day, like Pride, is a time of celebration, but it’s also a time we remember that homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia runs rampant across societies — and that such bigotry is dangerous and can be deadly.

There is no clearer example of this these days than in Chechnya.

In the southern Russian republic of Chechnya, over one hundred gay men or men suspected of being gay have been abducted by authorities and tortured. They were forced to share the identity of other LGBT individuals with authorities. We know at least three are confirmed dead, though the numbers of dead are undoubtedly higher.

This targeted persecution, torture, and killing of gay men is not an accident, neither is it random. Homophobia in Chechnya — and Russia more broadly — is widespread across government, religious institutions, and families.

The government makes no secret of its homophobia. Russian authorities have flat out denied LGBT people even exist. When asked about violence against LGBT people, Kheda Saratova, a member of the Human Rights Council, commented that Chechnya’s “whole justice system” would treat anyone who kills a gay relative “with understanding.” Her comments are both shocking and predictable: LGBT people throughout Russia face violence, harassment, and discrimination, and perpetrators commit these crimes with no accountability.

For LGBT people in Chechnya, sometimes even one’s home isn’t safe. So-called “honor killings” are still practiced in in Chechnya, and men who may be seen as having “tarnished” the family’s “honor” by being gay or believed to be gay face being killed by members of their own families.

This violence and impunity must end! Join Amnesty International demanding an end to the violence in Chechnya.

Today especially, we stand together for LGBT rights, and we denounce the violence in Chechnya and in other places where LGBT people are at risk simply for who they are.

But more than this, we denounce the homophobia, transphobia, and biphobia that fuels this violence. And we will not stop fighting for a world free of such hate, fear, and bigotry. Human rights — and human lives — depend on it.

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