There are fresh allegations that gay persecution continues in Russia with the launch of a new website allegedly encouraging users to “report” and target the LGBT community.
Known as ‘Saw’ in English, the site even proudly proclaims that the said campaign in the site represents “Chechnya’s Comeback”, referencing those previous reports of a systematic campaign involving torture and other abuses targeted towards gay and bisexual men in the said Russian province. The Russian LGBT Network have condemned the alleged practices that also includes beatings, forces starvation, torture and even murder. Those concerned have even asked the world’s intervention to stop the alleged abuses.
Just days after the launch of the ‘Saw’ website, Gay Star New reported that three men have been assaulted violently. Russia LGBT Network said the men contacted them to report the incidents. They also said that there are other victims who opted to remain silent about what was done to them.
Saw is said to be encouraging users to upload photos of people they speculate are gay alongside personal information, with the objective of creating a database of gay people to then target and attack. It is also becoming a means for blackmail and extortion as anyone who wants to remove their name from the database will have to pay to do so.
The chairperson of the Russia LGBT Network, Mikhail Tumasov, said: “This is terrifying, I’ve never seen anything like this. The killing and torturing of gay people, they call it a game.”
Tumasov believes, however, that the website is just part of a trend of a larger anti-LGBT sentiment in Russia.
The LGBT community in Russia does not have legal protections from discrimination and violence. In 2013, President Vladimir Putin also signed the “gay propaganda law”, which disallows LGBT people from organizing or demonstrating publicly.
The European Court of Human Rights questioned the law and said it was “discriminatory, reinforced stigma and prejudice and encouraged homophobia”.