Russian LGBT advocacy groups are saying that after conversations with the US embassy they have been led to believe that visas for asylum-seeking gay Chechens are out of reach. Chechen gay men are looking for safety after the Russian-backed government has allegedly begun persecuting and killing gay men. While at least 40 men are hiding in parts of Russia after fleeing Chechnya, they are finding it difficult to secure visas in LGBT-friendly countries, according the Russia LGBT Network.
According to a release from the organization: “We were informed there was no political will…They’re not going to provide visas. They’re going to support us in other ways, but not with visas.”
The US along with the European Union have publicly condemned the actions in Chechnya, but so far only two men have secured visas.
According to Buzzfeed: A US State Department spokesperson said on background that all visa applications are considered on a case-by-case basis and the Chechens are eligible to apply. But US law does not have a visa category that allows someone to come directly to the US because of threats in their home country. Unless their situation fell into an unrelated category — like if they had a job offer in the US or were being reunited with a family member — they would only be eligible for tourist visas that would require them to prove they would return to Russia.
“We believe there are still options available in extreme cases like this and we are in contact with Russian LGBT activists and US government officials to continue to explore those options,” the Council for Global Equality. “We hope there is political will on the Hill and within the Administration to provide a safe haven in the United States for carefully vetted claims. As advocates, it’s our job to try to make that case here in Washington.”