Svetlana Zakharova, from the Russian LGBT Network, told MailOnline: "Gay people have been detained and rounded up and we are working to evacuate people from the camps and some have now left the region.
"Those who have escaped said they are detained in the same room and people are kept altogether, around 30 or 40. They are tortured with electric currents and heavily beaten, sometimes to death."
Despite the growing evidence of mass targeting of gay men in the region, a spokesperson for Chechnya's Russian-backed leader, Ramzan Kadyrov, has denied the reports, insisting that gay people do "not exist" in the republic.
The spokesperson added: "If such people existed in Chechnya, law enforcement would not have to worry about them, as their own relatives would have sent them to where they could never return."
The legal status of homosexuality in the predominantly Muslim region of Chechnya is unclear, but authorities have historically turned a blind eye to anti-gay violence and murder, while Kadyrov has previously said he approves of honour killings.
As human rights groups continue to condemn what is fast emerging as the largest state-sponsored persecution of LGBT+ people since the Nazis, Amnesty International has launched a petition calling on Chechen authorities to end its systemic persecution of and for the Russian government to urgently intervene end the brutality.In a petition signed by over 8,700 people as of Tuesday morning (April 11), Amnesty International called on Aleksandr Ivanovich Bastrykin, Chairman of the Investigation Committee of the Russian Federation, to:
- Carry out prompt, effective and thorough investigations into the reports of abductions and killings of men believed to be gay in Chechnya and to ensure that anyone found guilty or complicit in such crimes will be brought to justice in accordance with the laws of the Russian Federation;
- Take all necessary steps to ensure safety of any individual who may be at risk in Chechnya because of their sexual orientation and to condemn in the strongest terms possible any discriminatory comments made by officials;
- Stand by your international human rights obligation to prohibit discrimination and to investigate and prosecute hate crimes, the most invidious form of discrimination.