Until recently, Moscow and St Petersburg were considered ‘safe spaces’ for LGBTIs – now asylum applications will be made easier.
The Dutch government has declared Russian LGBTI asylum seekers a risk group following a letter by the State Secretary for Security and Justice.
In the letter Klaas Dijkhoff wrote to the Tweede Kamer der Staten-General – the Dutch House of Representatives – he states that the Russian anti-gay laws ‘further fueled anti-gay sentiments among the population’.
‘The law also gives radical groups carte blanche to attack, intimidate or discriminate against LGBTIs, because authorities hardly take action againstacts of violence against them ’ Dijkhoff wrote.
He also highlighted the growing number of attacks and the steep rise in violence against LGBTI people since the law came into force, according to de Volkskrant.
By appointing them as a risk group, Russian LGBTI asylum seekers will be eligible for asylum if they show minor indications of persecution in their home country, although they must still demonstrate this through personal circumstances and facts.
Before the change, cases were treated on an individual basis, with asylum seekers having to explain their situation and lay out the dangers they would face upon their return to Russia.
Until now, the Dutch government still labeled Moscow and St Petersburg as safe places for LGBTIs, despite an official report by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, stating same-sex couples had to fear violence everywhere in Russia.
‘This is very good news for Russian LGBTI asylum seekers,’ said Tanja Ineke, chair of COC Nederlands, the oldest LGBTI organization in the world.
‘We are counting on the Russian LGBTI asylum seekers who are fearing deportation to also be allowed to remain in the Netherlands.’
In the past, the Dutch government had told LGBTI asylum seekers to move to other places, according to COC Nederlands.