According to reports, there is an increasing number of Russians being granted asylum in the United States because of their sexual orientation or gender identity as the Russian government furthers its attacks on gay rights groups.
Asylum can also be granted to foreign nationals who demonstrate that there is a well-founded fear of persecution based on their race, religion, nationality, membership in a particular social or political group in their home country.
According to a 27-year-old Russian man who says he sought asylum in the United States after being abused by Russian police at a Moscow gay pride rally, the problem of gay bashing is only getting worse in his former country.
In fact, the Russian government recently passed a law that bans "promotion" of homosexuality, thereby making it illegal to talk or write about being gay.
The advocacy group Immigration Equality reported that it won more gay and lesbian asylum cases for Russians in the last two years than for any other country besides Jamaica.
A spokeswoman for the advocacy group Human Rights First said her group has also represented a large number of gay and lesbian asylum-seekers from Russia. She said that many of these cases are extreme and that skinhead violence is common in the country.
Luckily, each year thousands of people are able to achieve freedom and safety by seeking asylum in the United States. To be considered for asylum relief, the applicant should generally file an asylum application with the Citizenship and Immigration Services within one year of entering the United States.
Source: NY Daily News, "Russians find asylum in New York amid gay bashing, harsh laws back home," Erica Pearson, March 18, 2012