Paragraph 175 Revisited: Genocide In Chechnya And Its Global Impact On The Criminalization Of Being LGBT

Transgender rights are near nonexistent in the United States. The Russian government openly supports the persecution of LGBT individuals and imprisons detractors. Chechnya is full force LGBT genocide and concentration camps. Needless to say, around the globe, homophobia and hate continue to severely affect the LGBT community. So what’s next? Why do we sit idle and watch? There is still hope for the tide to turn in favor of the American transgender community, but the same cannot be said for LGBT people in Chechnya. The situation is code red and signifies a terrifying reality that could impact the criminalization of being LGBT around the world.

Chechnya is an eastern European country that has a degree of, but not complete, self-government. The country is under Russia’s heavy influence and it can be inferred that Russia is the common denominator in most of the nation’s social problems. Chechnya imposes the death penalty for homosexuality and there are no securities for LGBT citizens. The government encourages the killing of people suspected of homosexuality by their families. Not only does the Chechen government sanction the endorsement of families murdering their own LGBT relatives, including children, there are zero repercussions for these acts.

In February of 2017, the Chechen government reportedly launched its “gay purge.” The first concentration camps for homosexuals since World War II have been opened in Chechnya. LGBT individuals are routinely rounded up and detained in these facilities where they have been tortured and murdered. Recently, international attention was focused on the genocide in Chechnya when video surfaced of a teenage boy being thrown off the roof of an apartment building. The teenager’s family suspected him of being a homosexual and in retribution for bringing shame to his family they murdered him. The heartbreaking video sent shockwaves around the world and confirmed the horrors that the Chechen LGBT community are up against.

The situation in Chechnya is an unwelcome return to paragraph 175 under Nazi Germany. Paragraph 175 added homosexuality to the criminal code. LGBT individuals were forced to wear pink triangles and imprisoned in concentration camps across Nazis controlled Europe. Only 40 percent of “pink triangle prisoners” survived their captivity. The horrors of concentration camps have now returned to Europe, but solely targeting LGBT individuals. This in itself is a frightening gateway that could lead to the reinforcement of LGBT persecution around the world.

The future is uncertain for LGBT in Chechnya and the world has been slow to respond. Hope is beginning to emerge as the United Nations has issued condemnations against the human rights violations occurring in Chechnya. Europe and the U.S. State Department have urged Russia to investigate these crimes against humanity, but little has changed and there remain to be any sanctions placed on Chechnya for their crimes. To complicate matters, the Russian government and President Vladimir Putin are staunchly anti—LGBT, supporting laws discriminating against homosexuals. Russia vehemently arrests LGBT activists who protest against the actions in Chechnya. President Trump and his administrations close ties to Putin only add to the problem.

Solidarity amongst the global LGBT community is needed now more than ever. Diminishing LGBT rights in the U.S. under the Trump administration is a concern that must not be ignored. Our lesbian, gay, and bisexual communities have failed to fight hard enough for our transgender community. We have seen their rights be slowly stripped away, yet few voices have actively demanded that our lawmakers do not ignore the plight of our transgender allies. How can our community fight for those in Chechnya and ensure that our hard fought rights will not be infringed upon if we aren’t fighting tooth and nail for transgender rights as well. We are truly a global community and no longer can afford to be complacent when any LGBT at home or abroad are vulnerable. When voices demand action openly and keep educated on the broader community is when change occurs. It is the only way to protect our communities. The realization that any LGBT communities worldwide can so easily have their rights infringed upon and lives ended so inhumanely should terrify every soul. Speak up, speak out, and realize what happens to one LGBT community affects us all.