Staunton, May 20 – Given the attention Chechnya’s mistreatment of sexual minorities has attracted, including the establishment of what are effectively the first concentration camps since Hitler’s time for LGBT people, many might be excused for thinking that anti-gay attitudes and actions are unique to Chechnya within the Russian Federation.
Such thinking could hardly be more wrong. The Russian Federation as a whole has been recognized along with Armenia and Azerbaijan as the most homophobic countries in Europe (kavkaz-uzel.eu/articles/302844/lgbtrightsinrussia.wordpress.com/2017/05/13/hate-map/).
That pattern, which is based only on reported incidents, is especially disturbing because defenders of sexual minorities in Russia say that in more than 90 percent of cases of such attacks, LGBT people in the Russian Federation are afraid to report them to the authorities lest they become victims of official abuse (https://salt.zone/radio/7491).
The fact that so many Moscow outlets have given so much attention to the Chechen cases suggests that the Russian authorities may in fact welcome attention to them as a means of distracting others from attacks on LGBT people elsewhere and creating the impression in the West that Chechens rather than Russian citizens more generally are to blame.
The Russian authorities may have an additional reason for playing up the Chechen case: anti-gay sentiment is so widespread in Russia that allowing or even promoting stories about what the Chechen government has been doing is a way of normalizing anti-LGBT actions and may even lead to its spread.