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Russian gays look increasingly to U.S. for asylum

Russian gays look increasingly to U.S. for asylum | Asylum Seekers | Scoop.it
Though there are no official statistics on the number of Russians seeking asylum in the U.S. on grounds of their sexual orientation, there is some suggestion applications could be on the rise.

 

Artem Mitrofanov came to the U.S. with scars of growing up gay in Russia. Some were literal, such as the one on his wrist from the day he says a skinhead slashed him with a broken bottle. Others were internal, including pains in his kidney, which he says are the result of being beaten by assailants wielding religious icons who told him he should die.

 

Police detain gay-rights activist Kirill Kalugin in St. Petersburg early this month after a one-man protest during a holiday celebrating paratroopers.

Still others were psychological. "If you're gay, that's it. It's like a mark on you," said Mr. Mitrofanov, who is 27 and from Moscow. His solution was to leave. He applied for asylum in the U.S. in 2009 and won refuge in 2010.

Such departures may become more common as Russia moves ahead with controversial antigay regulations, which have led some to call for a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi. President Vladimir Putin in late June signed into law the so-called gay propaganda bill, which punishes those who publicly inform minors that "nontraditional relationships" are OK. Other new laws ban adoptions by same-sex couples and criminalize actions that insult the "religious feelings" of Russian believers.

Though there are no official statistics on the number of Russians seeking asylum in the U.S. on grounds of their sexual orientation, there is some suggestion applications could be on the rise.

Immigration Equality, the largest organization in the U.S. devoted to helping gay asylum seekers, has fielded an increasing number of inquiries from Russia. It received 63 inquiries from Russians in 2012, up from 35 in 2011. This year, there have been 32 inquires through mid-June. The group is currently handling 28 cases for Russians.

"We have had a handful of Russians per year, but over the last couple of years that number has really shot up," said Victoria Neilson, Immigration Equality's legal director. She said the group still handles the most asylum claims from Jamaica, where unlike Russia sexual relationships between men are illegal and punishable by up to a decade in prison.

The U.S. has had a policy of awarding asylum to gay applicants on the basis of persecution fears since 1994. Asylum seekers present an application that notes their sexuality and reasons they fear persecution. It often includes letters from friends or family and medical records for victims of attacks.

Ms. Neilson said there is no "magic formula" for an applicant to prove to an adjudicator that he or she is gay but "detailed, credible testimony can be sufficient." Successful claimants cannot return to Russia even temporarily, or they would risk jeopardizing their status with U.S. authorities, she said.

Rob Hughes, an immigration lawyer in Vancouver who advises gay clients on asylum in Canada, said he received two such claims from Russian men recently after more than a decade of seeing no Russian applications.

Alexander Kargaltsev, a 28-year-old Russian gay activist and filmmaker who received U.S. asylum, said he used to receive about one message a month from gay contacts in Russia asking how to seek asylum abroad. But this summer he said the number has climbed to practically one a day.

Mr. Kargaltsev believes it is a response to what he sees as Russia's increasing intolerance of homosexuality—part of a growing campaign against Western liberal values that has become a prominent feature of Russian politics since Mr. Putin's return to the presidency in 2012.

The new Russian laws come on the heels of local antigay regulations, such as the Moscow government's decision in 2012 to ban gay pride parades for a century. The Russian Orthodox Church's leader, Patriarch Kirill, last month described gay marriage as "a very dangerous sign of the apocalypse."

Such moves are popular in Russia, where gay sex has been legal since 1993 but homosexuality remains largely taboo. According to an April survey by the Levada Center, 73% of respondents said the government should suppress public expressions of homosexuality.

Some say the emphasis on anti-gay regulations helps the Kremlin undercut support for the pro-Western urban elite that recently helped mount the biggest protests to threaten Mr. Putin's rule. Many of the protesters are among the minority of Russians who support gay rights.

 

 


Via littlebytesnews
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littlebytesnews's curator insight, August 16, 2013 8:33 PM

Should the US be granting aslyum to Russian gays?? 

 

The obvious answer is no....we would be better off offering aslyum to Christians in Syria, Egypt and other parts of the Middle East who are under constant terror threats and persecution by Islamists who kill Christians and gays. However, Obama is yet to condemn the violence inflicted by Muslim terrorists against Christians and gays in Muslim countries, but he had no problem condemning Russia for their anti-gay propaganda policies. Russias policies aren't killing anyone, whereas sharia law in Muslim countries is killing, persecuting and oppressing many Christians and other non-Muslims. 

 

 

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Fury at £32m bill to care for failed asylum seekers | UK | News | Daily Express

Fury at £32m bill to care for failed asylum seekers | UK | News | Daily Express | Asylum Seekers | Scoop.it

DELAYS in getting rid of failed ­asylum seekers are costing the hard-pressed British taxpayers ­millions of pounds a year. By: Anil Dawar Mon, July 22, 2013 18 Theresa-May-replaced-the-UK-Border-Agency-with-two-units-under-direct-ministerial-controlTheresa May replaced the UK Border Agency with two units under direct ministerial control Figures seen by the Daily Express show £32.1million has been spent over the past three and a half years supporting more than 20,000 migrants after they have been refused permission to stay in Britain. Worsening log-jams at the Home Office and ballooning numbers of human rights appeals mean each one waits an average of 10 months to return home. The massive bill to stop them falling destitute before they leave does not include the cost of housing them. Campaigners yesterday voiced outrage at the huge cost to the public and demanded that the Government overhauls the immigration system. Ukip MEP and home afffairs spokesman Gerard Batten said: “It is wrong that people should have to wait months or years for their case to be decided and wrong that the taxpayer should have to foot the bill. “The solution is to streamline the system and make decisions final. This can only be done if we remove ourselves from the jurisdiction of the European Court of Human Rights and if we regain control of our borders by leaving the EU.” Matthew Sinclair, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “The Government must reduce this bill by ensuring failed asylum seekers are removed far more quickly. It’s not fair on the individuals concerned – or [on] taxpayers.” The cost of failed asylum seekers emerged in figures about the “Azure cards” they receive to pay for food and toiletries. It is wrong that people should have to wait months or years for their case to be decided Gerard Batten The pre-paid cards are topped up with £35.39 a week and must be used in named chemists and super-markets. Pregnant women and those with children get more. In all, 20,585 cards have been doled out since 2009, costing £32,147,461. In March, Home Secretary Theresa May replaced the UK Border Agency with two units under direct ministerial control. This month, Home Affairs Committee MPs said the backlog of immigration and asylum cases stood at more than 500,000. At current work rates, it would take nearly 40 years to clear up. A Home Office spokesman said last night: “Since 2010 we have halved the cost of temporary support for failed asylum seekers and reduced the overall cost of asylum support by £220million. “Cases are now being resolved more quickly and the number of appeals is falling.”

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