Russian gays seek asylum in U.S.

Russian gays seek asylum in U.S.

Andrew Mironov…faces an uncertain future in New York City as one of scores of Russian gays seeking asylum in the United States because of hostility and harassment in their homeland.

“In Russia, I would have gotten my Ph.D. this fall, had a job and health insurance,” said Mironov, 25. “Now, here, I’m nobody.”

Yet the sacrifices have been worth it, Mironov says, given the fears that lingered after he was severely beaten by several assailants in the lobby of a gay bar in his home city of Samara. …

There are no firm statistics on the number of gay Russian asylum seekers; U.S. government agencies that handle applications do not report such details. However, the Department of Homeland Security’s latest figures show that overall applications for asylum by Russians totaled 969 in the 2014 fiscal year, up 34 percent from 2012. …

In several U.S. cities, programs have been launched to assist gay asylum seekers from Russia and elsewhere as they await processing of their applications, which can take six months or more. For the first five months, the asylum seekers are barred from taking paying jobs, so they often struggle to support themselves, even with resumes illustrating professional success in Russia. …

The United States is among several countries favored as havens by LGBT Russians who emigrate from there. Canada, Finland and Israel are among the others. Gessen said the U.S. is more receptive than many Western European countries, and Aaron Morris, the Immigration Equality lawyer, said his legal team had been able to win approval for most of the Russian asylum cases that it has handled.

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