Immigration Equality, a New York-based lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) rights advocacy group, has seen the number of inquiries it receives from Russians seeking U.S. asylum based on sexual orientation “skyrocket” since January 2012, when it fielded just three such queries, spokesman Diego Ortiz says.
Ortiz says his group fielded 25 inquiries in August 2013 after Putin signed the “propaganda” law, and that the average monthly figure has remained in the “mid-teens” ever since, with spikes earlier this year around the time of the Sochi Winter Olympics in February.
The prospective asylum-seekers can be placed in two categories, says Aaron Morris, legal director at Immigration Equality. The first, smaller group consists of LGBT families who “actively felt that the Russian government was going to come and take their children away,” he says.
Most of the inquiries, however, come from gay Russians under the age of 30, many of whom fear physical attacks and humiliation by violent antigay groups that in recent years have abducted and beaten gays and posted videos of the assaults on the Internet, he says.