Bisexual woman calls for investigation following torture in Chechnya

As reported in VICE News, a 22 year-old bisexual woman is calling for an investigation into her parents and a clinic after she was tortured in Chechnya.

Two women walking in front of police officers, one of them wearing a rainbow flag. A bisexual woman has called for an investigation into torture in Chechnya.

A 22 year-old bisexual woman is calling on Russian authorities to initiate criminal charges against her parents and a Chechnya psychiatric clinic, claiming she was tortured over her sexuality. 

Speaking to VICE News, Aminat Lorsanova detailed how she was locked in a clinic in the Chechen capital Grozny for 25 days in August 2018. On Monday 20th January 2020, she filed a complaint with the Federal Investigative Committee of Russia. 

Due to support from the Russian LGBT+ Network, the bisexual woman has managed to escape Chechnya and is safely living outside Russia. One of the volunteers who helped Lorsanova was attacked in their home. Unknown assailants interrogated them for the whereabouts of the woman and the coordinator for the emergency support program. 

Lorsanova is currently seeking legal action against the clinic as well as her parents. She said they assisted in the torture when she was detained for four months at the Republican Psycho-Neurological Dispensary, where an unnamed man beat her to “expel evil spirits”.

The unnamed man was identified as a friend of Lorsanova’s father. She said in an email to VICE News, “He was beating me with a stick in the solar plexus, pressing this area and below with his fingers. He put down my skirt to the hips and was pressing there as well. I was screaming out of pain, and he was yelling prayers. My mother and father observed the process but did not do anything even though I asked for help and asked them to stop that.”

Speaking to the Moscow Times, Front Line Defender Veronika Lapina noted the prevalence of  ‘exorcising’ LGBT+ people in Chechnya and the Chechen diaspora. According to her, 30 young women she works with had been subjected to the practice. 

Before the end of 2018, Lorsanova claims there were at least six occasions where her father drugged her. She said, “He put handcuffs and tied my legs with adhesive tape. My mouth was also taped. He told me that he was going to treat me like an animal, like a sheep. After the injection of [the antipsychotic medication] aminazin, I was supposed to sleep that way. He even didn’t unleash my legs and hands.”

In 2019, Chechen officials received external pressure to establish necessary changes towards the protection of the LGBT+ community. This followed reports from January which stated that there was a new wave of ‘gay purges’. Homophobic attacks continue to rise, forcing queer people to flee their homes in search of safety. 

Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has remained steadfast in his belief that there is no discrimination against LGBT+ people because there are no queer people in the country. Speaking to journalist James Longman, head of Chechnya police, Apti Alaudinov, said, “For us it’s completely crazy that one of us could be gay. Seriously! Ask any Chechen, ‘Do you have any gays in your family?’ He will punch you. Why? Because to him it is an insult.”

Russia’s Investigative Committee has not made any definitive comments on whether a criminal case will be opened into Lorsanova’s allegations.

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