Kazakov, 25, fled Russia in 2013, settled in the Washington, D.C., region and was granted asylum by the United States in September.
He told America Tonight that many people back home believe gays have a mental illness.
“There is no life [in Russia] for being gay, especially if you grow up in the middle of nowhere in a small town,” he said.
Like Kazakov, many other gay Russians have recently fled to the United States in hopes of being granted asylum, saying they’re fearful for their safety back home.
Attorneys at Immigration Equality, a New York City nonprofit that offers legal services to the LGBT community and HIV-positive asylum-seekers, say their caseloads have skyrocketed from 50 to 60 requests for assistance from Russian gays in 2011 and 2012 to 180 requests last year.
Many are trying to escape violent situations that arose following a 2013 law preventing gays from speaking about their sexuality or participating in public displays of affection in front of minors. The government labels that behavior as “propaganda.”
“They felt unsafe in Russia,” said Aaron Morris, Immigration Equality’s legal director. “Once these laws began to pass, for a lot of them, it was the last straw. I mean, they couldn’t take it anymore.”…story continues below…