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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, September 11, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 37
Netherlands OKs asylum for Russian LGBT refugees
Section One
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Netherlands OKs asylum for Russian LGBT refugees

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The Dutch government has declared that Russian LGBT refugees are an at-risk group, thereby clearing them for asylum in the Netherlands.

Dutch Secretary for Security and Justice Klaas Dijkhoff said in an official letter to his country's House of Representatives that the status of LGBT Russians in the Netherlands would be changed so that it's easier for them to get asylum.

Previously, Russian LGBT refugees had to prove they were personally at risk of violence or other persecution. Now they will only have to establish that they are from Russia and give some examples of the dangers LGBT people face in Russia.

The Dutch government will also change their assessment of conditions in Moscow and St. Petersburg, which until now had been listed as 'safe' places for LGBT people.

In his letter, Dijkhoff noted that Russia has passed anti-LGBT laws that have '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 against acts of violence against them' Dijkhoff added.

'This is very good news for Russian LGBTI asylum seekers,' said Tanja Ineke, chair of COC Nederlands, said to be the oldest LGBT 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 2006, the Dutch government granted similar 'special status' to Iranian refugees.

In the past, however, the Dutch government has been hostile - or at best indifferent - to most LGBT asylum seekers.

In 2012, then-Immigration Minister Gerd Leers advised LGBT foreigners who faced dangers in their own countries to 'be extremely circumspect in their behavior,' or in other words to hide their sexual orientation to avoid persecution in their home countries.

Leers then denied asylum to applicants from Uganda, Senegal, and Sierra Leone.

In 2011, the Dutch government introduced temporary residency permits for foreign partners of Dutch citizens who wanted to live in the Netherlands but were not legally qualified to enter the country because they were not married to their Dutch partners.

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