LGBT rights in Chechnya

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LGBT rights in Chechnya
Same-sex sexual activity legal? (in the Russian aligned Chechen Republic) illegal, since 2006, but some uncertainty

(in the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria) de facto legal, since 1991

(in the Caucasus Emirate) illegal; Islamist militias may murder homosexuals
uncertain and unspecified in both the Chechen Republic; killings of homosexuals by mobs have been tolerated by government Death (in the Caucasus Emirate)
Gender identity/expression (in the Russian aligned Chechen Republic) restricted by Sharia law code

(in the Chechen Republic of Ichkeria) no restrictions

(in the Caucasus Emirate) restricted by Sharia law code
Recognition of
No recognition of same-sex relationships
Adoption No specific restrictions
Military service No specific restrictions
Discrimination protections None

The status of LGBT rights in Chechnya can be very confusing and is often self-contradictory. There are certain elements within the culture that seem to allow for a high level of tolerance, but on the other hand, the current situation will not allow any progress.

Chechnya is a disputed territory, between the autonomous republic within Russia's borders, the secular separatist Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, and the Islamist Caucasus Emirate. Attitudes between these three ruling powers vary widely, with the Caucasus Emirate viewing homosexuality as immoral, the exiled "Chechen Republic of Ichkeria" (produced from a split with what became the Caucasus Emirate) legally mostly indifferent about the issue , and the Russian backed "loyalists" under Kadyrov wanting the implementation of the sharia law code which ascribes death to homosexuality.

Cultural Aspects

Chechnya is a mostly Muslim nation, and the sharia law code of Islam explicitly condemns and punishes homosexuality; Islam, as an Abrahamic religion furthermore condemns extramarital relations, including those between people of the same sex.

However, despite this, Chechen culture is not as gender stratified as other that of Muslim groups, and until recently under both the Wahhabi influenced Islamist fighters as well as pro-Russian Ramzan Kadyrov's backers (both of which support sharia, which the native population has been shown to disapprove of), sharia had never been implemented in Chechnya. Chechnya is often described as having a culture with much emphasis on personal freedom, and Chechens are thought to generally resent unnecessary infringements on personal freedoms. The Chechen code of morals could be used to aid the cause of LGBT rights. The first most important value to Chechens is freedom, and the second is equality (the third, hospitality, could also, be used for the cause of LGBT rights). However, these values do not necessarily ensure an absence of a public negative stigma against homosexuality: they simply give the sense that it would be wrong to go out to persecute it actively by violating another personal freedom and privacy.

Chechens have been often described by Arabs, Chechens themselves, and Westerners as being not very devoted to Islam, especially in comparison to their Arab jihadi comrades. [1] There is a native system of interpretation known as adat, which often clashes with Quranic literalism, with the Chechens often vehemently rejecting the latter. [2] Paul B. Henze noted that, in Chechnya, national traditions were viewed as being far more important than religion, which was (at the time of writing) consistently sidelined. [3]

Furthermore, like many other peoples of the Caucasus, Chechens place a high value on hospitality, of which tolerance for differences is considered a prerequisite. Also important to the Chechen code of morality is equality, which could also be used to further the cause of LGBT liberation in Chechen society.

Not much is known about homosexuality in Chechnya's history.

Chechens are occasionally portrayed in the Russian media as being heavily inclined towards homosexuality. This can be seen, for example in the 1995 work of Makanin, The Caucasian Captive, a pacifist work dealing with the Caucasian wars,in which a rather feminine and beautiful Chechen youth on opposite sides of the war from the Russian main character become involved in a somewhat bittersweet inter-ethnic romance as a side story until the main character is forced to kill "The Youth" (as he is referred to as) when he tries to summon his comrades. The book was partly used to be made into a somewhat popular movie [4], "Plenniy", or "Caucasian Captive" as released in the West. However, the depiction of Chechens as occasionally inclined toward homosexuality most likely has nothing to do with their culture in reality, but more with the often highly negative perception of Russians (who are often highly homophobic) toward Chechens.

Legal Status

Homosexuality was first illegalized in Chechnya when Russia conquered it in the late 1800s. After the Red Revolution, all of Russia legalized homosexuality again, but it was re-illegalized under Joseph Stalin for the whole Soviet Union.

In 1991, when Dzhokhar Dudayev declared Chechnya to be independent, Russian law was discarded, making homosexuality de facto legal. The level of public openness since the beginning of the post-Soviet period has been unknown. Under Aslan Maskhadov, as a form of compromise with the more radical Islamic factions within the country, sharia law was allowed to be implemented, but there were never any cases of it actually being used. This law carried over to the Caucasus Emirate, which officially has sharia as a part of its law code. The Chechen Republic of Ichkeria, currently headed by Achmed Zakayev does not include allowance for implementation of sharia law code, thus still having homosexuality legal. The loyalist, pro-Russian government run by Ramzan Kadyrov has stated that sharia will be implemented, but whether this will be applied to homosexuality is unknown.

There are no known cases of prosecution of homosexuals in Chechnya.

However, Ramzan Kadyrov has said he approves honor killing, to be directed at perceived social evils, especially breaking with the traditional gender role and homosexuality. [5]

Other rights

No Chechen government recognizes any form of same-sex unions. Furthermore, there is no ban on discrimination, and the pro-Russian Chechen police loyal to Kadyrov have been known for extrajudicial prosecution of civilians among other human rights violations, which they are not punished for or attempted to be restricted in any way. There are no laws regarding adoption by homosexuals.


  1. Sakwa, Richard. Chechnya: From Past To Future. Available for preview:
  2. Wood, Tony. Chechnya: The Case for Independence.
  3. Henze, Paul B. Islam in the North Caucasus: the Case of Chechenia. Written in September 1993, published May 1995 with some updating. Available here:


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