‘If nothing changes, I’ll kill myself’: The horrific plight of LGBT+ asylum seekers in Russia

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06/07/2019

“Russia is the last place I wanted to end up,” says Ahmet, 25. “But I don’t have a choice – it is either this or death.” Ahmet, originally from Gaza, was never supposed to have ended up in Russia. Now he is stuck here. Ahmet’s dream was to pursue a medical career in the US – he wanted it as much for the chance to “be himself” as for the education. It was his dad who wanted him in Russia, to be near his uncle if things went wrong. The matter was settled by his dad’s unexpected death. He wanted to fulfil his elder’s last wish in life. So instead of New York, Ahmet found himself studying medicine in Ivanovo, a sleepy town 170 miles northeast of Moscow. When Ahmet first arrived in the Russian backwaters, he tried to keep himself to himself. He tried, he says, to control the “fire” burning inside him – “imagine no sex at 21?!” – but one day he made a profile on a gay dating site. It changed everything. He met people. He fell in love. And then his world collapsed.

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