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Alexander J. Segal's picture

According to a poll conducted by the web-portal GayRussia.Ru — Russia's leading online community for LGBT persons and their supporters — 65% of the respondents indicated that they would like to emigrate from Russia to a country which is safer and more respectful of its LGBT citizens. Some 27 % of the respondents indicated that they had no desire to leave Russia, while the remaining 5 and 3% of the respondents pointed out that they either already left Russia or never lived in Russia in the first place.

This poll was taken to assess the attitudes of the LGBT citizens of the Russian Federation in the context of the recent political developments which directly affected the already embattled LGBT community there. Since 2011, an increasing number of Russian regions and major cities, including Saint Petersburg, passed the laws prohibiting the so-called “propaganda of homosexualism” (no love from russia if youre gay [see blog]). In May of this year, a number of activists, both in Moscow and Petersburg, were violently dispersed, detained, and charged for peaceful public actions aimed at informing the public of the dire human rights abuses of the LGBT persons perpetrated all over Russia. Under the new law in Saint Petersburg, the activists carrying rainbow flags were rounded up by the police and eventually charged with that very “propaganda of homosexualism” (spring violence and hate in moldova russia and ukraine [see blog]), thus clearly showing that the Russian authorities do intend to use laws such as this one to restrict the freedoms of speech and association of the Russian gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender/transsexual citizens. Notably, and hardly unexpected at all, such state-sponsored homophobia in effect gave license to various anti-gay hate groups to pursue their actions with more violence and audacity than ever before. Simply put, most of the Russian LGBT persons — especially those who dare to live their lives openly — live in constant fear of persecution and imminent danger of violence perpetrated both by the agents of the state and their fellow citizens. The Russian Orthodox Church (ROC), which enjoys a considerable support of the Kremlin — and lands its support to the Kremlin right back, has joined the assault on the LGBT rights in Russia with its own virulent homophobic campaign which galvanized its adherents who continuously refer to sexual minorities as 'Satanic agents of the West'.

It is only natural then that 65% of the respondents in the GayRussia.Ru poll indicated that they were willing to escape Russia and its relentless homophobia. Gay rights are human rights, but not in the present-day Russia, where the LGBT persons are continuously deprived of their human dignity and liberties apparently protected by the Russian constitution. Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender/transsexual persons from Russia who are presently in the U.S. and have a fear of returning home may be eligible for asylum in this country. If this applies to you, then you should definitely contact an experienced immigration attorney to learn more about the options available to you.

By Ivan Savvine, Senior Paralegal @ The Law Offices of Grinberg & Segal, PLLC.

Time to Leave