More than 100 gay men have been detained in concentration camp-style prisons in the Russian region of Chechnya, according to reports by local newspapers and human rights organisations.

The arrests are being made as part of a widespread anti-LGBT purge in the area. The prison camps are the first to be established specifically for LGBT people since the Second World War.

The information was first published by the Novaya Gazeta, an independent Russian newspaper, which reported that men were being arrested and kept in prisons where violence and abuse is commonplace.

Repression against the LGBT community began after an application for a gay rights march in the Chechen capital of Grozny.

A prison camp has reportedly been established in the town of Argun, according to eyewitness testimonies.

The report was published on the 1 April, prompting the spokesperson for Chechnya's Interior Ministry to dismiss the claims as an "April Fools' joke".

The press secretary for Ramzan Kadyrov, the head of the Chechen Republic, described the report as "lies" and stated there were no gay people in Chechnya.

"If there were such people in Chechnya, law-enforcement agencies wouldn't need to have anything to do with them because their relatives would send them somewhere from which there is no returning," he said.

Ramzan Kadyrov
Ramzan Kadyrov, Head of the Chechen Republic, has denied the allegationsDima Korotayev/Epsilon/Getty Images

Human rights organisations have corroborated the information published by Novaya Gazeta.

"For several weeks now, a brutal campaign against LGBT people has been sweeping through Chechnya. Law enforcement and security agency officials under control of the ruthless head of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, have rounded up dozens of men on suspicion of being gay, torturing and humiliating the victims," a report by Human Rights Watch states.

"Some of the men have forcibly disappeared. Others were returned to their families barely alive from beatings. At least three men apparently have died since this brutal campaign began."