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Gay Dads, Fearful Russia Would Steal Their Kids, Seek Asylum in U.S.

Vaganov-Yerofeyev family

The couple and their sons fled Russia, which does not allow same-sex couples to adopt.

A gay couple who fled Russia because they feared their children would be taken away have requested asylum in the U.S.

Andrei Vaganov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev left the nation with their two sons, Denis and Yuri, this summer after Russia's federal government in July had begun an investigation of the Moscow social welfare agency that let Vaganov adopt the two boys in 2010. Because the nation does not allow adoption by same-sex couples, Yerofeyev has no legal relationship to them, but the two men, who married in Denmark in 2016, have been raising the children together for years.

The Russian LGBTQ group Coming Out announced Thursday that the men and their sons are seeking political asylum in the U.S., The Moscow Times reports. The boys have started school in the U.S. and are adjusting to their new environment, according to Coming Out.

Russia's government could find that social welfare officials committed "criminal negligence" by letting a gay man adopt children, the Times reports. The situation for LGBTQ people in Russia worsened significantly after the nation's enactment of its "gay propaganda" law in 2013. The law prohibits any positive mention of LGBTQ issues or identity in venues accessible to minors. The propaganda law "immediately turned us into criminals because of our sexual orientation," Vaganov told German news broadcaster Deutsch Welle in July.

"The actions of authorities seeking to destroy a gay family are immoral and not based on law," said Max Olenichev, legal adviser to Coming Out, in the group's press release. "Children are brought up by loving parents and have the right to live in a family where they are happy, despite the [objections] of some conservative politicians. We urge the authorities to terminate the criminal case against guardianship officers and create all conditions where same-sex families, citizens of our country, will be able to openly live and raise children in their country without fear of discrimination."

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