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Bisexual Chechen Woman Who Fled Russia Last Year Claims She Was Beaten Up, Subjected to 'Exorcism'

Bisexual Chechen Woman Who Fled Russia Last Year Claims She Was Beaten Up, Subjected to 'Exorcism'

Chechnya has been under fire on alleged gay persecution since 2017, when gay men alleged bring tortured by law enforcement agencies.

Moscow: A bisexual woman who has fled Russia complained of torture and being held and subjected to "exorcism" in Chechnya, a region accused by rights groups of orchestrating campaigns against homosexuality.

Aminat Lorsanova lodged a complaint this week with Russia's investigative committee, demanding a probe against her parents, an exorcist and employees of a psychiatric hospital in the region's main city Grozny, according to the Russian LGBT Network.

A spokeswoman for the NGO, which helped 22-year-old Lorsanova leave the country, said on Thursday there has been no response so far to the complaint.

"They can dismiss the complaint saying it's nothing, or channel it to the investigative committee in Chechnya, where our chances are non-existent," she said.

In that case, the European Court for Human Rights may be the complainant's last resort.

Lorsanova says in the complaint that she spent two stints of 25 days and four months in different psychiatric clinics in Grozny, the LGBT Network said.

Neither clinic could be reached for comment.

Lorsanova said she was beaten by an acquaintance of her father to "banish a djinn" or evil spirit inside her, the NGO said.

"He hit me with a stick in the solar plexus with my T-shirt hiked up and pressed his fingers on the area" as her parents looked on, ignoring her cries for help, it quoted the woman as saying. She also accused her father of handcuffing her, subjecting her to tranquiliser injections and leaving her tied up even as she slept.

"In Russia, the practice of such methods to cure homosexuality has become widespread" in the mostly Muslim Caucasus regions where both Islamic centres of alternative medicine and state psychiatric clinics can administer various treatments, the NGO said.

Lorsanova left Russia in April 2019, it said, without disclosing where she is today.

A Chechen official on Wednesday portrayed the woman as a victim of a conspiracy by the LGBT Network, claiming the NGO "fished out a confession that she is of a non-traditional orientation" and made up her stories about torture.

"These genderless beings will face harsh punishment," regional minister for national policy Dzhambulat Umarov said of the NGO in a video posted on his Instagram account. "We have the right to fight for our heterosexual rights, our family rights, traditional rights."

Chechnya has been under fire on alleged gay persecution since 2017, when gay men alleged bring tortured by law enforcement agencies.

Chechen officials routinely dismiss the reports as "made up" and strongman chief Ramzan Kadyrov claims the region's population is exclusively heterosexual.

first published:January 23, 2020, 18:26 IST