Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov has argued no gay people exist in the Russian republic and those who are LGBT are fake Chechens.
Mr Kadyrov’s comments come after Russian President Vladimir Putin announced he would communicate with the country’s Prosecutor General and Minister of Internal Affairs about reports of the detention and torture of gay men in Chechnya.
More than 100 men have reportedly been detained and tortured in Chechnya after being identified as suspected “homosexuals”. At least four are alleged to have been killed.
But Mr Kadyrov claimed gay men in the republic were not true Chechens and were simply pretending to be Chechen in order to “get to the West”.
“We have never had them among the Chechens. Unless we are talking about those who aren’t Chechens but say they are so that they can get to the West,” the leader told Interfax news agency.
“Chechen society does not have this phenomenon called non-traditional sexual orientation. For thousands of years, the people have lived by other rules, prescribed by God.”
He claimed Chechen authorities had not received any official reports of the systematic persecution of gay people in the conservative and chiefly Muslim region.
Survivors have told reporters and human rights organisations the people who captured and tortured them were members of the police force. It is of course unlikely for the police to record crimes they are reportedly perpetrating.
According to a survivor testimony from a man detained in a “gay torture camp” in the republic, Chechen police are urging parents to kill their gay children.