The UN has ruled that the child of lesbian parents who fled Russia after the family faced threats and harassment had his rights violated when Finland refused their application for asylum.
The 11 year-old boy was bullied and isolated in school when students found out about his parents, and his mothers faced threats to their safety due to Russia’s ‘anti-propaganda’ laws. The family fled to Finland, where the child began to flourish and make friends, but their request for asylum was rejected.
The authorities recognised that the family were threatened, bullied and discriminated against back in Russia, but decided that these things could not be considered as amounting to persecution. The family were left with no choice but to return, making an official complaint which eventually reached the United Nations.
The Committee on the Rights of the Child concluded that Finnish authorities “failed to adequately take the best interests of the child as a primary consideration when assessing the author’s asylum request based on his mothers’ sexual orientation, and to protect him against a real risk of irreparable harm in case of return to the Russian Federation”.
Kseniya Kirichenko, Programme Coordinator at LGBTQ+ rights organisation ILGA World, shared, “This is a ground-breaking decision: it is the first asylum-related case from the UN system involving a child who is facing specific risks on the grounds of his mothers’ sexual orientation, and of the family they form together.”
Arpi Avetisyan, Head of Litigation at ILGA Europe, stated that the decision was “setting out necessary standards for the protection of children in LGBTI families who are at heightened risk of discrimination, especially in countries like Russia, where LGBTI people face stigmatisation and hostilities in their everyday lives. States must always ensure that the best interests of the child are effectively and systematically taken into account in the context of asylum proceedings, and that they are not discriminated based on their parents’ sexual orientation.”
Kirichenko continued, “In the past, we have seen that international decisions on lesbian, gay and bisexual asylum seekers actually led to giving the applicants residency in the respondent States. We hope that Finland will also ensure that this family will be able to come back and to finally have a happy and safe life”.
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