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Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Couple: ‘they threatened to take our kid’

Four years after Argentina approved the Marriage Equality Law, Marina Mironova (left) and Oxana Tomofeeva from Russia wed yesterday at the Buenos Aires City Civil Registry on Uruguay street. The couple plans to seek political asylum in Argentina because of laws in their home country that discriminate against them.
By Jayson McNamara
Herald Staff
Russian women wed in BA seeking asylum from Moscow’s anti-gay laws

Two Russian women tied the knot yesterday in Buenos Aires after having fled from what they described as “continual persecution” in their homeland and the threat of losing the 16-year-old son they’ve raised together for almost a decade, all because of their sexuality.

The civil ceremony — which came on the fourth anniversary of the passing of Argentina’s marriage equality legislation and just days after a visit from Russian President Vladimir Putin to Buenos Aires — will now allow the couple and their son to apply for asylum in Argentina, LGBT rights activists said yesterday.

Marina Mironova, 38, and Oxana Tomofeeva, 36, wore matching outfits to the marriage office on Uruguay street in downtown Buenos Aires yesterday, in what was an event reminiscent of a similar ceremony in February when the two Russian men wed, citing Argentina’s marriage equality law as a potential refuge from the persecution they were facing in Russia, where an “anti-gay propaganda” law was passed last year.

“The main reason we came to Argentina is because I have a son and we wanted to protect him,” said Mironova, who suggested her relationship with Tomofeeva was why Russian authorities had allegedly threatened to take 16-year-old Nikolai from her.

“We simply want to live as a family, to not be afraid anymore, and to continue raising our son,” she added.

Threats

Mironova, who has raised Nikolai with her partner for over eight years, claimed rumours were circulating in Russia about the prospect of a law that could allow government agencies to remove children from their gay parents. “Some friends of ours, a lesbian couple, recently committed suicide because of the persecution they were facing,” she told the Herald, speaking through an interpreter.

Gay couples in Russia have effectively been prohibited from acknowledging being part of a sexual minority since the Kremlin last year approved a law outlawing so-called “gay propaganda.” The legislation is allegedly aimed at “protecting children and families.”

Originally from New Siberia in the far northeast of Russia, the newlyweds yesterday said neighbours and acquaintances had regularly targeted them with verbal attacks. The family had moved three times before arriving in Argentina, including to the capital Moscow. “There’s nowhere left to run (in Russia),” claimed Mironova, who said that she was fired from her job as a teacher after word spread of her sexuality.

‘Symbolic ceremony’

In attendance at yesterday’s ceremony were LGBT rights activists from the Federation of Lesbians, Gays, Bisexuals, and Transsexuals (FALGBT), whose vice-president Claudia Castrosín Verdú told the Herald that Mironova and Tomofeeva will now apply for asylum with the National Commission for Refugees.

“It’s very symbolic for us that two Russian women marry today in Argentina, where the law guarantees them legal equality and the right to be who they are,” she said.

If their application for asylum is successful, the pair will join the likes of Russian nationals Alexander Eremeev and Dimitri Zaytsev — who tied the knot in the same marriage office in February — as part of a growing community of LGBT refugees from Russia currently living in Argentina.

Requests for asylum from sexual minorities from Russia, as well as from some of the other 77 countries that punish homosexuality, are growing in the United States and Europe.

In Argentina, gay couples were the first in the region to be granted the right to wed, and over 9,300 LGBT people, including foreign nationals, have tied the knot since then, according to data from nationwide Registry of Persons offices.

The National Commission for Refugees will have 20 days to review Mironova and Tomofeeva’s case. All the time in the world for a young Nikolai, who told the Herald in Spanish he thought Argentina so far seemed “muy bien.”

men wed in BA seeking asylum from Moscow’s anti-gay laws

@jaysonmcnamara
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