The United States has denied visas for roughly forty gay Chechens currently in hiding fearing severe persecution for their sexual identity.

The individuals are hiding in various locations around Russia after a wave of kidnappings, torture, and disappearances of gay people were reported in Chechnya, a semi-autonomous region in southern Russia that borders Georgia.

A US State Department official declined to confirm or deny if the individuals had been denied visas, telling the Independent that visa records are confidential under US law and that they are unable to discuss individual visa requests.

A spokesperson for the Russian LGBT Network had confirmed the visa denials to Buzzfeed News.

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