Authorities finally blocked the SAW ‘gay hunt’ website Wednesday. The Russian website allowed users to upload photos and personal information of gay people. Other users could then pay US$3 to access information. However, for a fee of US$23, people could pay to have information about themselves removed. For a time, the site also offered rewards for vigilantes who kidnapped LGBT people to Chechnya.
Encouraging ‘gay hunters’ to take their victims to Chechnya plays on the fear inspired because of well-publicised atrocities against LGBT people in the autonomous Russian republic.
Authorities in Chechnya began a purge of LGBT people in December 2017. Since then the republic has become notorious for the detention, torture and extrajudicial killing of LGBT people.
The website is named after the ‘Saw’ horror movie franchise. Those movies feature a killer who traps his victims in ‘games’ designed to test their will to live.
The gay hunt – “Everything except killing them”
The SAW website told users, “You can do everything except killing them.”
In January this year the website further encouraged anti-LGBT vigilantes.
“Our future without smelly homosexuals and paedophiles depends on you.
“We are not averse to new like-minded people who are ready to fight against this scum.”
Russian LGBT Network
The Russian LGBT Network website says authorities did nothing “to find the creators of this ‘game’ and bring them to justice.”
Last year, Mikhail Tumasov from the Network spoke of the terror inspired by the website.
“This is terrifying. I’ve never seen anything like this. The killing and torturing of gay people, they call it a game.”
Mikhail Tumasov himself fled Russia for a time after the website listed his own personal information.
The Russian LGBT Network now provides screenshots of the website and other information for people to forward to authorities in the hope of keeping the site closed.
The Network helps evacuate people from Chechnya. It offers the refuges support in Russia but importantly, also helps them escape Putin’s homophobic regime.
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