You may have heard by now about the latest human rights crisis in Chechnya. The government has been rounding up and torturing gay/bi men. The New York Times reports at least 100 arrests and three deaths. It’s imperative to act now to save lives.
Yesterday I began encouraging my friends on Facebook and Twitter to donate to the Russian LGBT Network, which is helping evacuate vulnerable LGBT people from Chechnya. I also decided to direct proceeds from my anthology Falling Hard: Stories of Men in Love to the Russian LGBT Network through April 20, and I’ve been encouraging other authors to do something similar. (More details at the end of this post.)
I’ve gotten a bit of pushback. These days, many Westerners seem to be wary of anything Russian, even when it’s also LGBT. So I put together this FAQ to answer some of the questions that have come up.
Why would the Russian LGBT Network be working in Chechnya? Doesn’t Russia have problems enough on its own?
Chechnya is part of the Russian Federation. Although there have been Chechen efforts to secede from Russia, they have failed. Chechnya continues to be part of Russia just as Puerto Rico is part of the United States.
What is the overall state of LGBT rights in Chechnya?
Abysmal. You can read more at the frequently updated Wikipedia article LGBT rights in Chechnya.
What is the overall state of LGBT right in Russia?
I’ve never heard of the Russian LGBT Network. Is it an established organization?
The Russian LGBT Network was founded in 2006 is the only inter-regional LGBT rights organization in the Russian Federation. It is a network of 11 local LGBT organizations that cooperate on issues affecting LGBT nationwide. In addition to its 11 member organizations, it has branches in 13 cities. They are in the perfect position to help LGBT Chechens.
I looked for a rating of the Russian LGBT Network on Charity Navigator but didn’t find anything. Is this a scam?
Sites like Charity Navigator only rate charities that are registered in the United States. The Russian LGBT Network is not registered in the U.S. However, like many other charitable organizations that operate outside the U.S., it’s a real organization doing real work to save real lives,
If you still feel weird about it, you can donate instead to ILGA, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, and they’ll get the money to groups working on the ground to evacuate vulnerable Chechens—in other words, to the Russian LGBT Network. Be sure to specify that you want your donation to go to the Chechnya evacuation.
Is the Russian LGBT Network trustworthy? They’re Russian, after all.
The Russian LGBT Network opposes Russian laws that impinge on human rights and seeks to actively protect the rights and lives of LGBT people in the Russian Federation. The Russian people should not be held responsible for the actions of their government. Please don’t conflate the oppressed with the oppressor.
Moreover, the Russian LGBT Network has proved its reliability and trustworthiness time and again. Its organizers have risked their lives and freedom to do this work. Mainstream and alternative journalistic organizations like The Independent, BBC News, The Washington Blade, NBC, and The Guardian turn to the Russian LGBT Network for reliable information on what’s actually happening in the Russian Federation.They are also a member organization of the
They are also a member organization of ILGA, the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association. All members of ILGA must pledge to support all human rights and fundamental freedoms, including freedom of expression and non-discrimination based on race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation, etc.
But why the evacuation? Isn’t Russia is just as bad as Chechnya?
It’s easy for me to sit here in the United States and think that all crappy situations are equally crappy. But they aren’t.
England wasn’t perfect for gay men in World War II. In fact, it was pretty awful. But it was a hell of a lot better than Germany.
LGBT Chechens are begging the Russian LGBT Network to get them out of Chechnya, and the Network has already helped evacuate some of them. While the Network is not disclosing the new homes of these Chechens for obvious reasons, I will trust that if a Chechen LGBT person would rather be in St. Petersburg than Grozny, they are smart enough to make that decision for themselves.
For some, permanent resettlement inside Russia might be an acceptable solution. Others will likely apply for refugee status outside of the Russian Federation. But they can’t do that from inside Chechnya, where they are at immediate risk of arrest and murder.
Please don’t look askance at “good” because it’s not “perfect.”
OK. I’m convinced. How can I get involved?
- donate directly to the Russian LGBT Network (secure transaction through the Bank of Russia)
- donate to ILGA-Europe (credit card)
- buy my book Falling Hard through April 20
- Updated 4/18—Check out this page (under construction) for other participating authors and publishers
If you are a writer or publisher who would like to join me in a concerted effort to raise funds for the evacuation of vulnerable LGBT Chechens, please sign up here. In the next few days I’ll create a landing page where readers can go to find all the authors and publishers participating in this effort. (Update 4/18: Page is now under construction: https://dalecameronlowry.com/lgbt-chechnya/.)
Let’s save lives.