US: Here’s how Trump-Pence policy is already affecting LGBT lives in Chechnya

During the Obama administration, Mike Pence — then governor of Indiana — opposed the U.S. government’s effort to protect LGBT rights nationally and internationally. He argued that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people should not be recognized as a legitimate minority group separate from the rest of the population. It would seem that Vice President Pence is slowly getting his wish.

In March, U.S. newspapers reported that LGBT people would no longer be counted in the 2020 Census. De-identifying LGBTs can be a step toward making collective organizing impossible — and enabling persecution. Chechnya’s alleged “LGBT cleansing” campaign shows us how denying a group’s existence can make it easier to persecute its members.

Last month, scant reports about a torture camp for gay men in Chechnya began to surface. A Chechen official has denied these reports, claiming that gays (as they are understood ontologically in the West) do not exist in Chechnya. Something similar happened in Iran when, in 2007, then-President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad similarly claimed that there were no gay people in Iran — and therefore the government couldn’t be persecuting them. The argument is simple. Gays and their communities do not exist in Chechnya. Therefore, the region cannot be persecuting people who do not exist. As long as homosexuals are officially nonexistent, then so is the persecution.

The U.S. administration remained silent about these reports — a sharp change from the government’s strong defense of LGBT lives under the Obama administration.  Read more via Washington Post