This Woman Was Tortured for Being Bisexual. Now She Wants Russia to Investigate.

Under anti-gay leader Ramzan Kadyrov, LGBT Chechens have been subject to discrimination and deadly "purges."
January 21, 2020, 2:49pm
chechnya gay purge kadyrov

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A 22-year-old bisexual woman who was detained for almost a month at a clinic in Chechnya, where she was beaten and tortured over her sexuality and rejection of Islam, is calling on Russian authorities to initiate criminal proceedings against her tormentors.

Aminat Lorsanova filed a complaint with the Federal investigative Committee of Russia on Monday, calling for charges to be brought against a psychiatric clinic in the Chechen capital Grozny, where she was held for 25 days in August of 2018.

Lorsanova is also seeking the arrest of her parents, who she says facilitated the torture, and an unnamed man who tried to “expel evil spirits” while she was detained for four months at the Republican Psycho-Neurological Dispensary, also in the Chechen capital.

Lorsanova says the man was an acquaintance of her father.

“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,” Lorsanova said in an email to VICE News. “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.”

Lorsanova also said that on least six occasions at the end of 2018, her father injected her against her will.

“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,” Lorsanova said.

READ: Inside the Chechen prison where gay men say they were tortured

The Federal Investigative Committee of Russia did not immediately respond to a request for comment about Lorsanova’s claims.

Lorsanova managed to escape from Chechnya thanks to the support of the Russian LGBT Network, who told VICE News that Lorsanova was now living safely outside of Russia, though they would not say where due to security concerns.

Following Lorsanova’s escape, one of the volunteers who helped her was attacked in their apartment, when unknown people broke in and aggressively interrogated the volunteer. They were looking for Lorsanova and the coordinator of the Network’s emergency support program.

Chechnya has become notorious for its attacks on LGBT people. In 2017 more than 100 gay men were detained and tortured during a crackdown that reportedly led to a number of deaths.

READ: Chechnya’s new LGBT purge has already claimed two lives, activists say

A similar crackdown early last year saw at least two people die after mass arrests in a fresh purge targeting Chechnya's gay community.

At the time, Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov declared there was no crackdown because there were no LGBT individuals living in his region.

But Lorsanova’s experience isn't unique in Chechnya or among Chechen families who live outside the region.

“More than 30 young LGBT women the Network worked with experienced this often sexualized form of inhuman treatment because of their sexual orientation,” Veronika Lapina from the Russian LGBT Network, said in an emailed statement.

Cover: A demonstrator with a rainbow flag and a fur hat along with other participants at the start of a three-day vigil for the protection of homosexual people in Chechnya in front of the Federal Chancellery in Berlin, Germany, 30 April 2017. Photo by: Paul Zinken/picture-alliance/dpa/AP Images