"In Chechnya, I had no choice but to lie or die," says the 20-year-old.
He is now hiding out in a small house on the edge of Moscow with five other Chechen men after they escaped what they say is a brutal campaign against gay men by authorities in the Muslim region of Russia's North Caucasus.
All refused to give their real names for fear of someone recognising them and tracking them down.
"If any of my relatives realises I'm gay, they won't hesitate a minute before killing me," another of the men, 28-year-old Nortcho, told AFP.
"And if they don't do it, they will get killed themselves for failing to uphold the family honour."
While casual homophobia is common in Russia, the problem is particularly acute in conservative Chechnya, where homosexuality is taboo and seen in many families as a moral failing that should be punished by death.
In late March, the Novaya Gazeta liberal newspaper -- known for critical reports on Ramzan Kadyrov, Chechnya's iron-fisted ruler for the last decade -- published a shocking report that gay men had been rounded up.
The newspaper reported that the authorities had detained more than 100 gay men and urged their families to kill them to "wash clean their honour." It said at least two had been killed by relatives and a third died after being tortured.
The accusations were taken all the more seriously since the security forces controlled by Kadyrov -- a fierce loyalist of President Vladimir Putin -- have long been accused by rights activists of carrying out kidnappings and beatings of his opponents.
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