December 27, 2013 By Wallin & Klarich

In Russia, he was an easy target because of his sexual orientation. After being attacked several times in his home country and getting no help from law enforcement, a gay Russian man sought asylum in the U.S. only to be denied by immigration officials. A federal appeals court recently ordered immigration officials to review their decision.

Gay Russian Man Seeks Asylum


A gay Russian man, who was identified only as “John Doe” in court documents, was beaten by college classmates in 2002. A year later, he was beaten unconscious while dining at a restaurant with his partner and was hospitalized for three weeks. The man went to the police after the incident, but law enforcement took no action.

Determined to escape discrimination for his sexual orientation, the man sought asylum in the U.S. However, a U.S. immigration judge denied the petitioner’s request for asylum in 2007. The judge ruled that the man had not provided sufficient evidence that the Russian government was unable or unwilling to protect him and the isolated incidents in which he was beaten did not show he deserved refuge in the U.S.

Court of Appeals Decision

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals recently ordered immigration officials to reconsider whether to grant the Russian man asylum. In an opinion written by Circuit Judge Arthur L. Alarcon, the court ruled that the government did not present evidence to rebut the man’s testimony or his claim that the Russian government was unwilling to control persons who attack homosexuals. Alarcon also wrote that the indifferent response by police to the beatings showed a “well-founded fear of future persecution.”

Russian Homophobia Could Be Grounds for Asylum

Recently, Russian President Vladimir Putin signed a federal ban on spreading “propaganda or nontraditional sexual relations,” essentially making it illegal to discuss gay rights and gay relationships in general around children. Homosexuals in Russia, like the “John Doe” in this case, face constant harassment and homophobia in their native country.

Not only does the decision pave the way for this particular Russian man to be granted asylum in the U.S.

S., but it also can provide precedent for Russians who seek refuge in the country in the future. Russians who can show they are subject to persecution in their country because of their sexual orientation may be allowed to remain in the U.S.

Should Russians be granted asylum in the U.S. because of homophobia in Russia? Tell us what you think about this ongoing issue.

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