Married Gay Couple is Recognized in Russia, Then Forced to Flee for Their Lives2 min read

This is a story about two brave guys who challenged the whole Russian legislation system. Pavel Stotsko and Evgeny Voitsekhobskiy have succeeded in making Russia recognize their marriage, but at a great cost. Now they must flee Russia.

Pavel and Evgeny are two openly gay Russians who were living in Moscow. Some LGBT+ activists say it was brave-hearted of them, because if you are openly gay living in Russia, you’re at peril at all times.

Pavel and Evgeny met each in the capital of Russia. After living together for years, they wished to get married. However, same-sex marriages are not legal in Russia and local legislation prohibits registration of same-sex unions. 

Determined to have their union recognized in their home country,  the couple found a loophole in the law rules and forced the Russian state registrar acknowledge their marriage. Russian Family Code says that “Marriages between citizens of the Russian Federation concluded outside the territory of the Russia in compliance with the legislation of the state on whose territory they are concluded are recognized as valid in the Russian Federation.” Pavel and Evgeny flew to Denmark to get married, where same-sex marriages are legal and then returned to Russia to have their marriage recognized.

Pavel and Evgeny made their success public and soon regretted it.  Several plain-clothed police officers surprised the newlywed couple at their apartment. The police demanded they open the door, without explaining the reasons for the visit. After Pavel and Evgeny refused to do it, the police disconnected their electricity and internet. The police then confiscated their national identification documents that reflected that Pavel and Evgeny were married, and forced the couple to have new ones issued as single men. That was the police’s plan they’ve realized.

During the siege of the apartment by law enforcers I was inside filming the report for TV. I was extremely scared and those guys being hunted by the police gripped me with fear.

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“Do not protect the faggots!”, “We’ll get you” – After the the video was published  I received dozens of texts with threats against me.

Pavel and Evgeny have since left the country and their whereabouts are not known. Gays still living in Russia continue to fight for their rights. But no one knows for how many years the struggle for equality will continue.

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