A gay Russian asylum-seeker who has been living in the U.S. since 2014 and was detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement after returning from a trip to the U.S. Virgin Islands last month was released Thursday after spending more than a month in a detention center in Miami, reports San Francisco TV station KGO.
Denis Davydov, 30, is a gay HIV-positive Russian asylum-seeker who lives in San Jose, Calif. Davydov had overstayed a six-month visa in 2014. After he was detained by ICE, Davydov applied for political asylum because he was afraid of returning to his native country, where he could face persecution for being gay and HIV-positive.
"I just want to be around my friends," Davydov told KGO. "My family — I'm so thankful to my friends — I'm going to cry."
Sergey Piskunov, a member of RUSA LGBT, a Russian LGBT group, was advocating for Davydov. He was afraid of what could happen to him if he was to be deported back to Russia. “He’s a gay man and HIV-positive,” Piskunov told KPIX, a TV station in San Francisco. “Russia is not the best place for either of those and he’s a combination of both.”
Chechnya, a semiautonomous republic within Russia, has been grabbing headlines internationally after reports came out that gay and bisexual men were being rounded up and detained in what amounted to concentration camps because of their sexuality. A Russian newspaper provided details that alleged at least 100 men have been put in camps, while three have been killed. Russian President Vladimir Putin has denied the allegations although several survivors of the camps have spoken out about the torture they experienced.