The article by NewsMaker was translated by Global Voices and edited for clarity. Published with permission from NewsMaker.
In Moldova, five Russian citizens who are members of the LGBTQ+ community have been denied refugee status. The General Inspectorate of Migration (IGM) explained to four gay men and one transgender woman that “simple membership in a social group is not a basis” for granting refugee status. This was reported by the Genderdoc-M Information Center, which stated that they were “deeply shocked” by the explanations provided by the migration inspectorate.
According to the LGBTQ+ rights advocacy center, these five Russian citizens sought asylum in Moldova due to the risk of being drafted into the war in Ukraine and because of their sexual orientation.
All requests were rejected. The same happened with the appeal of a young transgender woman named D., who stated that she fears for her safety and life, as well as the prospect of going into the army and not wanting to participate in the war against Ukraine. In all five responses published this week, IGM claims that ‘some individuals have certain obligations to protect their country, and their avoidance of military service in Russia does not pose a risk of persecution.’ In response to the case of the transgender woman, the agency writes that she ‘did not provide sufficient details and evidence to confirm that she is under the scrutiny of state authorities’ and that she is at risk due to her affiliation with the LGBTQ+ community. However, IGM acknowledges that in Russia, there is indeed a law against ‘LGBTQ+ propaganda,’ and queer individuals face severe punishments, including imprisonment.
All LGBTQ+ community members at the inspectorate were told that they left Russia voluntarily, “which proves that they were not under the scrutiny of state authorities as individuals posing a national threat.” Furthermore, it was concluded that “the country of origin does not pose a danger to the life and safety of the applicants,” according to Genderdoc-M, which added that they are “deeply shocked” by such responses from the migration inspectorate.
The arguments put forth by IGM and the manner of their responses demonstrate a lack of understanding of the realities faced by queer individuals and a lack of understanding of the political context. The identical responses show a lack of interest by IGM in a thorough examination of cases and indicate that the institution does not value the fears and risks faced by applicants. We urge the authorities to intervene in the situation for a positive resolution of these cases.
NewsMaker published and Global Voices translated earlier a long interview with the gay couple when they moved to Moldova. Now one of them, Valery, has also been denied asylum. The denial of refugee status once again jeopardizes their life, as Russia has declared the LGBTQ+ community an extremist organization, and there is no longer any place for them to return to.