Gay Russians Seeking Asylum in the US on the Rise

Gay Russians Seeking Asylum in the US on the Rise

The number of gay Russians seeking asylum in the United States is increasing as anti-gay sentiment continues to rise in Russia.

No U.S. government agency keeps track of the sexual orientation of asylum seekers, but Immigration Equality, a New York-based organization that provides legal services to gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender immigrants, has seen an increase in the number of inquiries it received from gay Russians seeking U.S. asylum, according to an AP report: 68 in 2012, 127 in 2013 and 161 just through October 30 of this year.

During the past few years, the Russian parliament passed a law targeting “gay propaganda” and many incidents of violence against people attending gay-rights gatherings have been documented. To successfully be granted asylum, an applicant must prove that he or she has a “well-founded fear of persecution” in their home country, and these recent events are viewed as making it more likely that applications from Russian gays will be granted.

This is part of a larger immigration trend, as the Department of Homeland Security reports that the total number of asylum applications from Russians for any reasontotaled 969 during the 2014 fiscal year, a 34 percent increase from 2012.

Photo credit: AP Photo/Michael Knaapen

Follow Sarah Rumpf on Twitter @rumpfshaker