Two gay dads who fled Russia because they feared their adopted children would be taken away from them have requested asylum in the United States.
Andrei Vaganov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev left Russia with their two sons, Denis and Yuri, amid a government investigation into the Moscow social welfare agency that let Vaganov adopt the children in 2010.
The couple married in Denmark in 2016. Vaganov legally adopted the couple’s two boys before the marriage. The couple have been raising the boys, now 12 and 14, for over a decade.
But Russian authorities discovered the boys were being raised by two men and launched a investigation. They accused the social workers of “criminal negligence”.
They claimed the staff had allowed the couple to “form distorted ideas about family values in children” and “harm [the children’s] health and moral and spiritual development.”
Now advocacy group Coming Out has said Andrei Vaganov and Yevgeny Yerofeyev and their sons are seeking political asylum in the US.
“The entire family feels safe. The children are studying in America and are successfully adapting to new living conditions with the start of the school year,” the group said in a statement.
Lawyer Maxim Olenichev said the Russian authorities’ efforts “to destroy the same-sex family are immoral and not based on the law.”
“Children have the right to live in a family where they are happy, despite the objections from some conservative politicians,” Olenichev said.
“We urge the authorities to end the criminal case against [the social workers]. Allow all Russian same-sex families to openly live and raise children in their country without fear of discrimination.”
Gay dads fear Russia authorities could take their two children
The couple weren’t facing charges at the time. But they held grave fears Russian authorities would take away the children as a result of the investigation.
It began when one of the boys told staff at a hospital he had two dads. The staff then examined him to determine if his parents had sexually abused him.
Sharing their story in August, Vaganov said Russian authorities had also accused him of murdering his children.
“The public officials said, ‘Bring them to us to prove that they are alive.’ I refused,” he said.
“Several lawyers have confirmed that the authorities could take the children away from me.”
Authorities in Russia use the country’s notoriously homophobic “gay propaganda” law to oppress the country’s LGBTIQ community.
The law bans people from exposing children to so-called “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships”.
Human rights groups say the law has caused an increase in homophobic vigilantism in the country.
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