"If such people exist in Chechnya, law enforcement would not have to worry about them since their own relatives would have sent them to where they could never return".
These are the chilling, horrifying words of the Chechen president's spokesperson, made in response to recent news reports that authorities in the country have been rounding up and murdering homosexual men. Gay people, according to the president, "just don't exist in the republic".
For the western individual, such comments and beliefs are truly mind-blowing. Yet the horrific persecution, execution and abuse of gay people is not something of the past - homophobia is rife in many countries around our world today.
Despite the progress made in the West, which has seen gay people accepted and embraced by much of mainstream society, a lot of our world still lives in the dark ages when it comes to understanding human sexuality. It remains illegal to be gay in over 70 countries, with at least 10 of these nations even willing to state that they will execute you if you are gay.
The recent events in Chechnya - reports suggest that the country has opened 'concentration camps' for gay men, with 'more than 100' gay men rounded up and locked away - demonstrate how much work there is to do in eradicating homophobia.
And how is it than we can we fight homophobia? The key, I believe, is tackling ignorance. It is when people do not understand human sexuality, when they are rigid and inflexible in their world outlook, that homophobia is able to flourish. For the Chechen leader to believe gay people "just don't exist in the republic" is a prime example of ignorance leading to homophobia.
Scientists tell us that homosexuality is something innate within human individuals - it is like the Chechen leader claiming that left-handed people or a certain blood group don't exist in the country. It is beyond ridiculous, beyond absurd and beyond logic to claim gay people don't exist.
In every single population on planet earth, there are gay people. That is in every single community, country and on every single continent. It is believed that around 10% of the population is gay - that's 1 in 10 of people in every country. Gay people exist, whether their country 'allows' homosexuality or not. It is not something you can legislate on, control, or change.
As our species becomes more accepting, enlightened, informed and educated, we are seeing more clearly that homosexuality is something natural, normal and not to be feared. We know that it is the homophobic views and rules that need to change, not the gay individuals themselves. And why on earth should they change?
10% of the population are naturally and inherently homosexual - absolutely 0% of the population should be homophobic, hateful or harmful.
It is time that the Chechen leader - the leaders of the 73 other nations condemning homosexuality - , reviewed their attitudes, principles and beliefs. The global community will not stand by and allow a whole section of society to be persecuted in such a horrific way.
And such ignorant, ill-informed and blatantly stupid comments have no place in a supposedly informed and intellectual world.
Gay people exist in all four corners of this globe, and they deserve respect, recognition and inclusion within society.