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Gay Parents Who Fled Russia Seek Asylum in America

Gay Parents Who Fled Russia Seek Asylum in America

But Republicans plan to block record numbers of asylum seekers this year.

Two gay parents from Russia have applied for asylum in the United States following harassment from Russian authorities and threats their children could be taken away.

This summer Andrei Vaganov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev took their adopted sons and fled Russia, where they had lived for over a decade. The decision to leave was made under advisement from their attorney, as Out previously reported.

The couple, who married in Denmark in 2016, had been raising their two children with no problem for years. But when their son, Yuri, was hospitalized for a stomach ache, doctors learned they were gay. The hospital's medical team reported the family, and Russia's Investigative Committee began harassing the couple, as well as investigating the social workers who facilitated their adoptions.

Authorities said it was negligent for those social workers to allow the adoption to go ahead. The parents were ordered to report for a "pre-investigation check" into their lives, and their kids were forced to undergo a physical exam.

Things further escalated from there. An attorney advised them to spend some time outside of Russia, lest their kids be taken into state custody.

"A representative from the adoption center then called and asked us to voluntarily put the children in a rehabilitation center until the results of the examination were available," Vaganov told German broadcaster Deutsche Welle. "My lawyer told me, 'Now you have to leave the country.'

Vaganov said he and his husband left Russia "less than two hours later."

Vaganov and Yerofeyev decided that it was unsafe to return to Russia after someone ransacked their homem and they eventually settled in the United States. According to the Russian LGBTQ+ groups Coming Out and Stimul, the couple's children "are studying in America and are successfully adapting to new living conditions with the start of the school year."

Now the family is applying for asylum to stay in the U.S. permanently. If they are denied, they could have their children taken away, as well as facing further persecution and harassment.

Same-sex couples have been barred from adopting children in Russia since 2012, the year before it passed an anti-gay "propaganda" law banning the spread of information on "non-traditional sexual relationships" to youth. That law is widely seen to have been imposed as retribution for a U.S. law that prevents human rights abusers from entering the country.

Russia's "propaganda" law has been deemed to be improper by the European Court of Human Rights on at least three occassions. That court has limited authority to enforce its decisions, however.

Despite the looming threat of what happens if they return to Russia, the couple may have difficulty obtaining asylum in the United States. Though millions of people have been displaced by war, famine, climate disaster, and oppressive regimes, the Trump administration plans to block record numbers of asylum seekers.

RELATED | A Gay Couple with Two Kids Fled Russia Due to 'Gay Propaganda Law'

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