Celebrating Pride: Irina Gordienko

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Irina Gordienko
Picture taken from unicornbooty.com

Pride month is officially here and this weekend many of us will be dancing, drinking and singing on the streets of London to celebrate pride throughout the country and the world. A celebration that proudly started in the early 70s, but also marks a turbulent history for the LGBT+ community throughout the world. To celebrate we’ve decided to take a look at those all important people who are making their mark in the world and fighting for the LGBT+ rights across the globe. Today we are starting with Russian journalist Irina Gordienko of Novaïa Gazeta in Russia. She has been nominated for the Gala des Outs d’Or, organised by the Association of LGBT journalists (AJL), for her coverage of anti-gay repression in Chechnya.

What happened in Chechnya?

Many of you may remember at the start of this year the disturbing headlines and news articles, telling the stories of homosexual men shipped off to special prisons to be tortured and abused. They are often referred to as ‘concentration camps’ in western media. Men are detained for months, sometimes years without a trial and in most cases, their families don’t know where they are. Many survivors have come forward and described the agony of the torture they faced while detained in these centres. A man named Anzor spoke to ‘The Independent’ about beatings and electroshock torture he received at the hands of these Government-backed facilities. Although, when Russian officials were questioned on the matter a spokesman for Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov, told the Interfax news agency ‘“There are no homosexuals in Chechnya. You cannot detain and persecute those who do not exist.”

Who is Irina Gordienko and what was her part in uncovering the torture in Chechnya?

Irina Gordienko works for the newspaper Novaïa Gazeta. Thanks to their hard work and dedication, they found the truth behind the Chechnyan abuse and released the story to the world, if it weren’t for Irina and her team, no one would know about the human rights violations happening in Chechnya.

How did people find out about the torture in Chechnya?

It started the way every major story is broken, a person who worked at the Novaïa Gazeta took a testimony from local law enforcement, then others came forward and before long she and her team were taking testimony from victims of what had happened to them. It was based on these witness statements that the first story was released on the 20th of February.

What has happened since the story was released?

Since Irina and her team broke the story activists from across the globe have come forward condemning these acts. Many have signed petitions and some have flown to Chechnya to make demonstrations against these barbaric acts. Amnesty International has asked global governments to open their doors to anyone fleeing the barbarity. People are sending a strong message to the Russian authorities, and they won’t stop campaigning until every person in Chechnya is safe from abuse.

The media industry is riddled with false headlines and biased journalists, making a mockery of a profession that’s sole purpose should be tracking down and delivering the truth. However, Irina’s hard work has proven that there are still journalists with integrity, ready to share the truth about what is happening in the world and her work has led to the truth about massive human rights violations happening in Russia, that’s why she is the first of many to be counted by Travel Antics for her work protecting those in the LGBT+ community, stay tuned to find out who else will be listed. 

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