The secret escape from Chechnya to Canada for young gay men

One of the gay Chechen men brought to Canada as a refugee under a program, which human rights organisations and the Canadian government worked together in secret until last week, is telling his story of why he needed asylum.

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A source has told CBC News this program bypassed normal procedure for refugees, allowing the men to be accepted as government-assisted refugees, meaning they will receive support for a year. The government is offering few details, citing security reasons.

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The young man CBC interviews arrived in Canada in July. He insists his identity be hidden, nervous he could be recognised. He won’t even allow his own clothes to be shown, pulling on someone else’s baggy hooded sweatshirt emblazoned with the word “Canada” on one sleeve and the maple leaf on his chest. He pulls the hood far over his head, worried someone could see the story and pick him out by the profile of his nose.

“I’m afraid for my life and for my family,” he says, speaking through an interpreter.

His ordeal, he says, began when men in military garb arrived at his workplace. They grabbed him, stuffed him into the trunk of a car and took him to a secret police station where he was beaten and tortured.

“You’re beaten, sometimes kicked, sometimes objects are used but the last resort is always electroshock.”

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