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Watch the tense moment ABC News' James Longman comes out as gay to Chechen police chief

The British reporter was involved in a tense exchange with the head of Chechnya's police force during a recent investigative report.

2019-10-29

After news first broke in early 2017 of an anti-gay 'purge' in Chechnya, the world has watched in horror as stories of disappearances and torture at the hands of police have emerged from the semi-autonomous Russian region.

Almost three years after the first reports emerged, ABC News' James Longman travelled to Chechnya for Nightline to find out more about the ongoing situation on the ground.

After hearing from gay survivor Amin Dzhabrailov, who was "beaten and electrocuted" by police for two weeks after being rounded up from the hair salon where he worked (he later fled the country, finding santuary in Canada), Longman met with the head of Chechnya's police force, Apti Alaudinov.

“Ask any Chechen, do you have any gays in your family? He will punch you", Alaudinov tells him.

"Why? Because to him it is an insult."

Alaudinov denies accusations of state-sponsored torture of LGBTQ people in Chechnya, but adds ominously: "Can you find me one state in the world where a policeman hasn't committed some kind of crime."

For Longman, who previously worked at BBC News before moving to ABC in 2017, the issue is personal: A gay man himself, cameras captured the tense moment he comes out as gay to Alaudinov, who he says was visibly "taken aback" by the news.

"It's your life and you should live however you want", Alaudinov, in a suprising statement of acceptance in a country where LGBTQ people aren't afforded similar freedom. 

"But at the same time, don't teach us how we have to live. That's all!"

Human rights groups report that police persecution of LGBTQ people in Chechnya remains ongoing, after an investigation by the Russian government last year dismissed the allegations because they "couldn't find" any LGBTQ witnesses willing to come forward.

You can watch James Longman's full report on the situation for LGBTQ people in Chechnya below below: