Since 1998, the United States has processed an average of 46,000 asylum applications each year, according to estimates from the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. Winning asylum in this country, however, is not an easy task. On average, only 62 percent of these applications have been successful.
Asylum claims based on persecution related to a lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) individual's sexual orientation are particularly difficult to file, argue, and win — even with substantial evidence of persecution and ill-treatment.
In the United States, asylum on the basis of sexual orientation was first granted to an individual in 1994. The number of LGBT asylum claims has increased slowly but steadily since then.
In a country where citizens, nonprofit organizations, and even tourists can be fined or jailed for expressing public support of any kind for the LGBT community, reports are now emerging that private citizens are taking the government's persecution of LGBT people into their own hands -- creating fake social network profiles and bogus online personal ads, tricking the men (mostly teens) who respond into showing up for a date, then torturing them. Publicly. And the police are letting it happen.
Spectrum Human Rights Alliance, a group working on behalf of LGBT people in Eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union, has this horrifying report:
Infamous Russian ultranationalist and former skin head, Maxim Martsinkevich, known under the nickname "Cleaver" (or "Tesak" in Russian) spearheaded a country wide campaign against LGBT teens using a popular social network VK.com to lure unsuspected victims through personal ads. Mr. Martsinkevich's numerous and enthusiastic followers started two projects: "Occupy Pedophilyaj" and "Occupy Gerontilyaj". Allegedly they are trying to identify and report pedophiles using these "movements".
In reality, over 500 online groups have been created inside VK.com social network in order to organize illegal militant groups in every Russian city. Oddly enough their idea of fighting pedophiles targets exclusively male teenagers who respond to the same-sex personal ads and show up for a date. Captured victims are bullied and often tortured while being recorded on video. These self-proclaimed "crime fighters" perform their actions under the broad day light, often outside and clearly visible to general public that indifferently passes by or even commend them. Video recordings of bullying and tortures are freely distributed on the Internet in order to out LGBT teens to their respective schools, parents and friends. Many victims were driven to suicides, the rest are deeply traumatized. So far Russian police took no action against these "movements" even though Russian criminal code was clearly violated and despite numerous complaints from parents, victims and LGBT activists.