To tell you the truth, I do not remember reading ANY good news from Belarus since December of 2010 when Aliaksandr Lukashenka has re-elected himself for yet another term in the office. These two developments, however, seem particularly troubling for the Belarusian citizens who attempt to escape the ruthless dictatorship imposed upon them.
According to Masha Gessen, a renowned journalist and author of the new biography of Vladimir Putin titled “The Man Without a Face: An Unlikely Rise of Vladimir Putin”, about 15% of the current Russian prison population is comprised of the small and middle-size business owners who were thrown to jail by the corrupt authorities who either had direct interest in their enterprises or were refused the bribes they have coerced from the entrepreneurs for their assistance.
After the reports of the particular hardships faced by the LGBT applicants for asylum in the United States have surfaced in the media, and while the situation with the LGBT rights and freedoms continues to deteriorate in many parts of the world, the Obama administration has issued new rules, which, hopefully, will make the perilous journey of the persecuted LGBT persons towards safety in the United States a little easier.
At least 86 member states of the United Nations still criminalize consensual same sex acts among adults. Among those, 7 have legal provisions with death penalty as punishment. If you identify yourself as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender/transsexual, and if you are a citizen of one of the countries listed below, you may be eligible for asylum in the United States. As an applicant for asylum, you will need to explain your fear of prosecution and persecution in your homeland on account of your sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
On March 7, 2011, the governor of Saint Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest city and (once) its most civilized, Westernized, and tolerant metropolis, signed into law the bill against “propaganda of pedophilia, homosexuality, lesbianism, and transgednerism to minors.” When introduced to the Saint Petersburg legislative assembly in the fall of 2011, this infamous bill has caused international uproar among LGBT activists and human rights defenders. Several international petitions with hundreds of thousands of signatures were delivered to the Petersburg’s law makers, asking them to abandon the draconian measure which was to restrict the freedom of expression for the city’s already embattled LGBT community, as well as further deprive gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender residents of Saint Petersburg of their human dignity by equating their life styles to those of criminal sexual offenders such as pedophiles. The majority of the law makers, most of them members of Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party, ignored these pleas, and adopted the law which was cheered by the officials of the Russian Orthodox Church (ROC) and, even more frighteningly, by some of the federal officials, who suggested that such a measure could also be implemented on a national level.