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Russian-born activist says it’s time for LGBT Russians to flee country

Queer Russians are 'living through an all-out hatred campaign': Masha Gessen

Moscow-born activist and journalist Masha Gessen.

In an interview with The Huffington Post, Moscow-born journalist and activist Masha Gessen says that despite her initial hopes, outside condemnation of Russia's anti-gay policies is not changing anything inside the country, and the time has come for LGBT people to seek asylum abroad.

Following the June enactment of anti-gay measures like the one prohibiting promotion of so-called non-traditional sexual relations among minors and another banning gay couples from other countries from adopting Russian children, a Russian lawmaker has now introduced amendments to the Family Code that would deny the country's gay parents custody of their own children.

“If one of the child’s parents indulges in sexual contact with persons of the same sex, the damage to the child’s psyche is immense as a mother or father serves as an example for their offspring,” Russia’s RT News quotes State Duma deputy Alexei Zhuravlev as saying.

Gessen, who is an American citizen, told the Post that "it was a fair assumption that the law could be used to annul the adoption of our oldest son, so we made the decision to send our oldest son out of the country immediately." Gessen and her partner, a Russian citizen, are raising three children.

"At this point, with the fact that they're proposing this law during the G20 summit, it shows that no Western pressure is going to keep Russia from passing anti-gay laws, from endangering the lives of lesbian and gay people, from endangering our families," Gessen told Michelangelo Signorile.

"You turn on the television, you see somebody highly placed talking about whether the homosexual 'propaganda' law is enough, or if we need to take it further," she said. "That sounds like a call to violence. It's taken as a call to violence, sometimes operating in many cities, in the very center of Moscow, in the trendiest of bars, where people have been getting beaten up, and the police do not interfere."

She says that if the violence is to stop, "remove the gays, not the perpetrators."

Listen to more of the Post's interview with Gessen.