Argentina gives asylum to gay Russian who claimed he was persecuted

Argentina gives asylum to gay Russian who claimed he was persecuted

BUENOS AIRES - Argentina has granted asylum to a Russian who arrived in the country fleeing what he said was violence and discrimination due to his sexual orientation, a rights group said Monday.

The National Refugees' Committee decided to approve "refugee status" for the man, age 28, who is known only as Gene and arrived last year, according to the Argentine Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Federation (LGBTF).

The committee said it found evidence he was targeted with violent abuse, and "given the grave situation faced by the LGBT community in Russia, a lack of protection by the Russian state," the LGBT association said.

"Gene is very happy, and relieved by this outcome. He is already thinking about seeking Argentine citizenship after the two-year residency requirement has been met," said Esteban Paulon, who leads the group.

Argentina in 2010 became the first country in Latin America to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide.

Russia has banned same-sex marriage, and opposes support for equal rights for homosexuals, often calling such efforts "propaganda."

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