John M. Becker

Russian Gay Activist Protests at White House

Filed By John M. Becker | September 03, 2014 5:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Living
Tags: Andrew Nasonov, Russia, Russian anti-LGBT laws, Russian gay propaganda, Russian LGBT people, White House

andrey-protest-1.jpgA gay human rights activist who fled anti-LGBT violence in Russia is staging an ongoing protest action in front of the White House in Washington, D.C. to inform Americans about the plight of the Russian LGBT community.

Andrew Nasonov, who told his story this summer in a guest post for The Bilerico Project, left Russia with his now-fiancé, Igor Bazilevsky, after the couple endured hate-motivated beatings, death threats, job losses, and even an alleged kidnapping by police.

Nasonov and Bazilevsky are now seeking asylum in the United States. U.S. government policies prohibit asylum-seekers from working (or even applying for a work permit) for 150 days, so Nasonov says he came up with the protest action in order to do something productive with his time. He writes on Facebook:

The main goal of this picket is to inform the residents of the United States about the difficult plight of the LGBT people in Russia and numerous violations of their human rights. That is why I plan on using banners with various slogans and photographs while handing out the leaflets with my story and general information about the lives of the LGBT people in Russia. I believe that it's very important to talk about it now. While the whole world is closely monitoring the global geopolitical developments [in Ukraine], other problems do not disappear, do not become less actual.

Nasonov, whose signs read "Ask me why in Russia they want to kill me!" and "Ask me how Russian LGBT people live!," has picketed at the White House fence almost every day since August 24, He's committed to protesting indefinitely, and adds that he's been able to speak with and distribute information to many passersby, both tourists and locals alike.

Most have been receptive, with the exception of a Russian citizen who obviously supports the Putin government's crackdown on LGBT human rights. The man asked how much Nasonov was being paid to protest and snapped a few photos of himself waving a Russian flag in front of Nasonov's signs.

Nasonov's demonstrations have caught the attention of many in Washington, D.C.'s Russian LGBT expat community. Other Russian LGBT activists, including Artem Gorbunov, Gleb Latnik, Oleg Tomilin, and Mike Ivanov, often join him at the White House fence. Bazilevsky also attends and photographs each day's action.

Additional photos of the White House picket are after the jump.

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Editor's Note: Andrew Nasonov is a personal friend of the author.
Photos by Igor Bazilevsky.

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