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I'm coming to this august group of learned folks asking for advice.

I have this friend.  I've known her for years through common interests and have followed her life via blogs and emails for about the last 13 years.  She's a sweetheart - brilliant, beautiful and loving, a wonderful writer and a great mom.  

The problem is she lives in Russia and she's gay.  

Right now she's desperately trying to find a way to get herself, her son and her wife out of Russia before February's legislative debacle destroys her family.  I can't help her with that, but I hope to help her have a place to land safely if she decides to come here to the states.

The problem is, I don't have room in my home to house a whole family and I don't even know if my home in rural PA would be the best place for her to land.  What resources are there to help gay refugees?  Would she even be able to apply for asylum and is that the best option for someone fleeing from this kind of persecution?  Would she be better off going to the Russian expats over here and trying to network with them?  She's got several friends over here and in Germany and is trying to get info on all options before making a decision.  I want to give her good information, but I don't even know where to start.  Any advice?

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (5+ / 0-)

    "They call it 'the American Dream' because you have to be asleep to believe it." George Carlin, 2005

    by Elasg on Wed Oct 16, 2013 at 04:50:29 PM PDT

  •  I don't have anything new, but it sounds like you (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Shippo1776, Mayfly, Elasg

    have a few ideas to start - expat groups, immigration/emigration websites, looking into the rules of asylum... best of luck to them...

  •  List of groups that could help (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Mayfly, waterstreet2013, Elasg

    (ACLU, gay/lesbian rights litigators) in this article about an old (2000)  case on asylum for a gay man.

    Given the publicity about Russia's clampdown on LGBT people, this does seem worth pursuing. Go online to these organizations' websites, and make some phone calls. Good luck.

    •  Thank you! (0+ / 0-)

      I'm sure she'd be granted asylum if she applied for it, but I want to make sure I give her info on all her options in this area.  This link is a great start - thanks!

      "They call it 'the American Dream' because you have to be asleep to believe it." George Carlin, 2005

      by Elasg on Wed Oct 16, 2013 at 07:06:31 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  You are trying to do your best, (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    waterstreet2013, Elasg, codairem

    and that is all we can ask of ourselves.

    Okay, here's my disclaimer and then my ideas. I am not an immigration lawyer, or even an ordinary lawyer, so take my words as simple advice, rather than anything resembling the 'last' word. I'm not gay either, so again, another indicator of no particular expertise.

    My thoughts are that she and her family will find it much easier to get asylum in the EU, where asylum based on their orientation is more likely. The Netherlands or Germany come to mind, or perhaps Scandinavia. She should investigate all of the progressive Western nations as best she can and read up on their policies.

    Here, I think she'll simply run into a wall that makes asylum for anyone for any reason very difficult. She doesn't come from a conflict zone, she is not a political opponent of a 'hostile' government, and she is not personally threatened, yet. I don't think our government bureaucracy and/or regulations actually considers endemic, societal homophobia as a viable reason to seek entry here. It should, in my opinion, but the rules change only very slowly: look at how long it took to kill DADT.

    Network, find people who know, and see if somewhere in the EU will be friendly enough to take her and her family.

    I hate Putin and his ex-KGB cronies. They are killing their nation through corruption, lies, and violence. Not unlike what the Tea Party wants for us, as long as the 1% is in charge.

    And yeah, I know tarantulas don't really act like that at all, so no snarking, this is the internet damnit!

    by itzadryheat on Wed Oct 16, 2013 at 06:39:34 PM PDT

    •  Yes, that was what I was seeing too... (0+ / 0-)

      ...that the asylum question is trickier than it seems at first.  

      I suggested Germany too, and she might end up doing that, though she's been coming to the states since she was a little girl and knows the culture and language well - she says she would feel more comfortable here.  

      So far I've looked into LGBT groups - but there aren't many contacts local to me and I've got some phone numbers in the local Russian community that I'm going to try tomorrow.  

      Oh, she hates Putin too!  Last time we got together was right before Sandy hit in NYC and she asked me, in very measured tones, how I felt about Putin.  She was so relieved when I said I didn't like him!  Sadly, it seems that her sentiments about him were completely right!

      Thanks for the suggestions!  

      "They call it 'the American Dream' because you have to be asleep to believe it." George Carlin, 2005

      by Elasg on Wed Oct 16, 2013 at 07:23:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Perhaps small steps at first? (0+ / 0-)

        Get out first (Finland sounds good...), and then seek to come here? If she's familiar with we Yankees, warts and all, then I can see her obvious attraction to coming here. I just don't think she would find it easy to get here in one step, and there may have to be an intermediate period.

        As Dreidlgirl says, she should make the relationship as official as possible, thus easing the entire family's move. Another concern that just occurred to me is legal custody for her child? That needs to be locked up airtight: the Russian government would absolutely block any emigration of the child if the biological father objects. They would probably make it happen, even if he has already given up any legal claim.

        I can easily see the need for a stealthy exit, going to Helsinki for a "vacation" and not necessarily returning.

        Honestly, I would have been surprised if she liked Putin! I think a large portion of Russian society knows him for what he is - a new, cruel Czar - and as such hate him for it. But, and it's a big but, he's too powerful to easily oppose, and vindictive to a degree unseen in the West. I'd go on, but then I'd have to write a diary...

        And yeah, I know tarantulas don't really act like that at all, so no snarking, this is the internet damnit!

        by itzadryheat on Thu Oct 17, 2013 at 07:10:42 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's a thought... (0+ / 0-)

          I'm giving her the link to this thread so that she can read these comments, but I know they went out of Russia a year (two?) ago to get married, so that part is probably set.  As for parental rights - her son's father is a friend and I think he signed over all rights, but it's something for her to consider.  

          In her last letter, she said something about being able to get herself out of the country easily, but the problem was getting her wife and son out with her.  I don't know all the details of what she's having to deal with but it's another reason I want to get things on this end set so she can land as easily as possible.  

          Thanks again for all this great advice.  I am sure my friend will be very grateful.  :)

          "They call it 'the American Dream' because you have to be asleep to believe it." George Carlin, 2005

          by Elasg on Fri Oct 18, 2013 at 04:54:23 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  Best of luck to her and her family! (0+ / 0-)

            It sounds like this has been on the burner for quite some time, which is not a bad thing: all the angles come to light, and they can be dealt with one at a time.

            Keep us informed, will you? I would certainly like to hear how things progress for them in their quest.

            And yeah, I know tarantulas don't really act like that at all, so no snarking, this is the internet damnit!

            by itzadryheat on Sat Oct 19, 2013 at 04:51:56 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

    •  Are she and her partner married? (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      itzadryheat

      If they get married outside Russia, then it will count with any visa application as family now.  I think Finland is the destination of choice for Russians to do this.

      •  They are married... (0+ / 0-)

        I think they got married in Florence?  I might be mistaken about that destination, but I know they went outside of Russia to get married.  Good call!  If they can manage to get out of the country as a family, then that might be just the ticket.  Thank you!

        "They call it 'the American Dream' because you have to be asleep to believe it." George Carlin, 2005

        by Elasg on Fri Oct 18, 2013 at 04:42:52 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

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