WASHINGTON, November 29 (RIA Novosti) – A US court has ordered immigration authorities to review a decision to deny asylum to a gay Russian man who said he was attacked in his home country because of his sexual orientation, national media have reported.
The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday that the US Department of Justice’s Board of Immigration Appeals was incorrect in deciding the man had failed to show Russian authorities were unable or unwilling to prevent persecution, Courthouse News Service reported.
The appeals court said US immigrations authorities would have to show that "there has been a fundamental change in circumstances such that (the man) no longer has a well-founded fear of persecution" if deported to Russia, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
The man, who has been identified only as “John Doe,” said he was first attacked in 2002 after fellow students at a university in eastern Siberia discovered he was gay, leading to a three-week spell in hospital, Courthouse News Service reported Wednesday.
When he filed a legal complaint, however, local police told him his injuries were not serious, the Associated Press reported, citing court records.
The man said he was attacked again in 2003, but authorities again refused to take action, the AP reported Thursday.
The man moved to the United States in 2003 to attend a language school, but immigrations authorities initiated deportation proceedings when he stopped coming to classes. He then applied for asylum, Courthouse News Service reported.
The new ruling comes as the Russian government comes under continuing fire for its treatment of gays.
President Vladimir Putin in June signed a law banning the promotion of “non-traditional relationships” to minors.
The Kremlin says the law is aimed at protecting children and does not prevent adults from making their own choices. Critics claim the legislation is part of a much wider crackdown on homosexuality in Russia.