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Lithuania Accepting Gay Refugees from Chechnya as US Closes Door

Friday May 19, 2017

As gay men seeking to escape kidnapping and torture in Chechnya are reportedly being denied visas from the State Department of the United States as well as many European Union countries, Lithuania has announced that it will open its doors to refugees.

According to The Spokesman-Review, two Chechens were granted visas from Lithuania this week.

The announcement from Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius that "Two natives of Chechnya who suffered persecution because of their sexual orientation" would be granted visas, came on Wednesday on International Day Against Homophobia, Transphobia and Biphobia. He called on other European Union countries to accept gay Chechen refugees as well.

News that Lithuania is opening its doors broke the same day that BuzzFeed published a report that the United States was denying visas to gay men looking to flee violence or death in the republic.

Russian LGBT Network spokesperson Svetlana Zakharova told Buzzfeed that "negotiations have been difficult" with countries that could take refugees. In an email, she said that her organization was informed that "the US is not going to issue visas for people from Chechnya."

Meanwhile, the situation for gay men in Chechnya is becoming increasingly dire. In late April, Pink News reported that Chechen president Ramzan Kadyrov reportedly said he intends to eliminate all gay men in the mostly Muslim republic by Ramadan, which begins May 26.

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