LGBT Russians hoping to escape persecution in their country can seek asylum in Canada, reports The Globe and Mail.
Chris Alexander, Canada’s immigration minister, said Monday that LGBT people who wished to flee persecution in Russia would have their asylum claim favorably reviewed by the country’s refugee board.
“[Refugee claims] related to this particular issue will of course be looked at very seriously by our very generous system,” Alexander told The Globe and Mail, adding that Russia was restricting fundamental rights of LGBT people with the country’s newly passed gay “propaganda” law.
Canada accepts the claims of LGBT refugees in the same manner as those filed by other persecuted groups such as religious or ethnic minorities because they face persecution from both other citizens and their government, which also does not offer them protection.
Though Canada’s Immigration and Refugee Board does not currently track the number of asylum claims based persecution due to sexual orientation, officials say roughly half of the Russians who seek asylum in Canada each year — between 140 and 225 people — are accepted.
Under Russia’s new antigay legislation, individuals who break the law by holding LGBT Pride events or providing information to minors about LGBT issues would face fines of up to 5,000 rubles ($156), with foreigners facing a jail sentence of 15 days and deportation. Companies and media organizations could be fined up to 1 million rubles ($31,000) and would face suspension of their activities for up to 90 days.
Additionally, a well-known group of Russian neo-Nazis has been luring gay teens in the country with personal ads on gay dating websites, then beating them, humiliating them, and forcing them to come out on video.
Russian authorities have either ignored or condoned the antigay violence.