Russian Gay Activists Plead For U.S. Asylum: “Get Us The Hell Out of Here”

Mike Signorile conducted an unsettling interview yesterday with Russian journalist and LGBT activist Masha Gessen, who says things have deteriorated so badly inside Russia that the only solution left at this point is to help get as many persecuted LGBT Russians out of the country as quickly as possible, saying “get us the hell out of here.”

You can listen to that part of the interview below:

Although Gessen is an American citizen, she’s from Russia and has lived in Russia for many years with her lesbian partner, a Russian citizen.

Huffington Post reports:

Gessen hoped Western pressure in recent months would help change the course of Russia’s crackdown on its LGBT citizens, but now she believes that that’s not going to happen, and that it’s time for Russian LGBT people to flee the country to escape what she says has now become “all-out war” against LGBT people in Russia. And she’s calling on the United States to allow political asylum for LGBT Russians, and for LGBT activists here to focus on making that happen.

Yesterday, after months of rumors, a bill was introduced in the Russian Duma that compares LGBT people to alcoholics and drug abusers and would deny LGBT Russians custody of their own biological or adopted children.

Gessen had already sent her oldest son overseas, fearful that he’d be snatched by the government.

“My situation is that my partner and I are raising three kids, one of whom is adopted and two of whom are biological,” Gessen explained to me yesterday on my radio program in an interview from Moscow. (Listen to clips of the interview below.) “In June the Russian parliament banned adoption by same-sex couples. It was a fair assumption that the law could be used to annul the adoption of our oldest son, so we made the decision to send our oldest son out of the country immediately.”

Should the new proposed law pass, Gessen’s biological children could be taken away by the Russian government:

“I had a horrible conversation with my daughter this morning,” Gessen said. “I got the news of this bill while I was sending her off to school. I said, ‘They’ve finally filed the bill.’ Obviously we’ve talked about this at length in the family, and we expected something like this would show up. And she’s 11. She sat there thinking. After about 15 minutes she said, ‘Can I stay with my other mom if they take me away from you?’ She can’t grasp this, that they’re trying to outlaw our whole family, that there isn’t the option of going with one or the other.”

Gessen said the crackdown on LGBT people in Russia has only intensified, despite international outcry, and that LGBT Russians are “living through an all-out hatred campaign that’s been unleashed by the Kremlin.”

“You turn on the television, you see somebody highly placed,” she explained, “talking about whether the homosexual ‘propaganda’ law is enough, or if we need to take it further. That sounds like a call to violence. It’s taken as a call to violence, sometimes operating in many cities, in the very center of Moscow, in the trendiest of bars, where people have been getting beaten up, and the police do not interfere. Anti-gay violence is seen as par for the course, and if you don’t want violence, remove the gays, not the perpetrators.”