Masha Gessen is a Moscow-based writer, journalist and activist who's been speaking out in recent months on Russia's anti-gay propaganda law. Though she's an American citizen, she's from Russia and has lived in Russia for many years, raising three children with her lesbian partner, a Russian citizen. Gessen hoped Western pressure in recent months would help change the course of Russia's crackdown on its LGBT citizens, but now she believes that that's not going to happen, and that it's time to for Russian LGBT people to flee the country to escape what she says has now become "all-out war" against LGBT people in Russia. And she's calling on the United States to allow political asylum for LGBT Russians, and for LGBT activists here to focus on making that happen.
Yesterday, after months of rumors, a bill was introduced in the Russian Duma that compares LGBT people to alcoholics and drug abusers and would deny LGBT Russians custody of their own biological or adopted children.
Gessen had already sent her oldest son overseas, fearful that he'd be snatched by the government.
"My situation is that my partner and I are raising three kids, one of whom is adopted and two of whom are biological," Gessen explained to me yesterday on my radio program in an interview from Moscow. (Listen to clips of the interview below.) "In June the Russian parliament banned adoption by same-sex couples. It was a fair assumption that the law could be used to annul the adoption of our oldest son, so we made the decision to send our oldest son out of the country immediately." But now, if the new law passes—the adoption law passed in four days—Gessen's biological children could be taken too.