Equal Times asked to join his tour one Friday night in April. We agree to meet him at 10pm in front of an American fast food joint in Kitay-Gorod, a cultural hotspot in Moscow. At the said time, Alex is running a little late: But we skip that part.
Since he started the tours in November , 12 tourists have taken part. But how the law is interpreted and applied is another thing. Since it was signed into law in June , a number of cases have been brought to prosecution. However, Alex says that there is a positive side to all this: As we enter Mono Bar, it clearly a second home for him.
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Alex greets the doormen, the barmen, some of the customers and wishes a happy birthday to the manager, who, in return, offers him a glass of wine. As soon as we reach a table, Alex opens up about his personal story.
At 17 he moved to Moscow to study journalism. When Alex came back in Russia, he fell in love and had his first long-term relationship. It was that point that he decided to come out to his mother, which he describes as a difficult experience. What is truly shocking, however, are the allegations of the brutal detention, beatings and torture of men perceived as gay or bisexual in the southern Russia republic of Chechnya, as detailed by a series of reports published by the Russian newspaper Novaya Gazeta.
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How can the poor treatment of gay people in Russia be a stereotype if such things still happen, we ask? Disarmed, Alex sadly admits: But they can't even do that," he said. Ryzhov's complaint also accuses immigration officers of "insults and discrimination" against his clients. The complaint cites several other remarks by the immigration officer to the gay Uzbek applicant, including her reference to HIV-positive individuals as "AIDS boys" and her remarks that it is "too bad that they developed a treatment" for the disease. After the applicant says he hopes that he would eventually be allowed to marry his partner in Russia, the officer suggests he try his luck in Uzbekistan, whose deputy justice minister said in May that international calls for greater LGBT rights in the former Soviet republic are not on Tashkent's agenda.
After Ryzhov and his client point out that criminal punishment for homosexual relations is still on the books in Uzbekistan, the officer appeared to long for a return to the Soviet-era criminalization of sexual activity between men. The Russian Interior Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the immigration officer's recorded remarks to the Uzbek asylum seeker or Ryzhov's objection to the treatment of his clients. Thierry, a gay Cameroonian man in his late 20s, said he was unaware of what rights watchdogs call a deteriorating situation for LGBT rights in Russia when he decided to apply for refugee status there this year.
Thierry, who agreed to speak on condition that his last name not be published, said he and his boyfriend were attacked "physically and verbally" in Cameroon after people learned that he was gay. He said he was also physically abused by his father and other relatives. Thierry said he ended up in Russia earlier in early after around four years of trying to flee Cameroon, where same-sex sexual relations are a criminal offense punishable by up to five years in prison.
He says he made his way to Morocco and tried to flee to Spain by boat, and that he was rescued after the vessel capsized. An acquaintance in Morocco recommended that he go to Russia, Thierry said. So he helped, and thank God I obtained a visa.
A travel guide to Russia if you’re LGBTQI | Guide
The first time I got a visa I didn't have money for the plane ticket, so the visa I had [expired]. So I got a second visa. That's how I came to Russia. I've been here about three, four months," Thierry said. He said he left Cameroon "because of violence, because homosexuals are not accepted" there.
A travel guide to Russia if you’re LGBTQI
We face problems, even death threats in some cases," Thierry said. He said he feels "a bit more secure here in Russia than in Cameroon.
The country had a total of recognized refugees in , the lowest number since , according to official data. Of the , people who received temporary asylum in , nearly 99 percent were from Ukraine, where fighting between Russia-backed separatists and Kyiv's forces in the east have killed more than 10, since April