Asylum, Sponsored By Coca-Cola

by Jonah Shepp

Masha Gessen suggests a way for pro-gay companies to support LGBT individuals in Russia and other oppressive countries without damaging their business interests:

Immigration Equality, a legal organization that represents LGBT asylum-seekers in the United States, has recently hired a full-time Russian-speaking paralegal to help with the intake of new clients.

Russian speakers now represent the bulk of the group’s incoming clients, overtaking people from Jamaica, who had traditionally held first place. (To grasp the significance of that information, think how much more difficult it is to get to the United States from Russia than from Jamaica.) The hundreds of Russian LGBT refugees who have come over in the last few months are but the forerunners of a larger looming exodus—these are the people with enough money or self-confidence to leave now. As things get more desperate, as they inevitably will, many more will follow. These people are lucky enough to get legal help from Immigration Equality, but at this point there is no organization that can reliably help them with housing, money, job training, and job placement.

This is where the multinational companies come in. First, they should offer their Russian LGBT employees and their families the opportunity to transfer to the United States. Second, they should create programs to actively recruit, hire, and, if necessary, retrain LGBT refugees who are already in the United States. Such programs should not be limited to Russians: As the civilizational divide along LGBT-rights lines grows ever wider, increasing numbers will face more and more danger in countries all over the world, and they will need a safe haven.

Listen to Masha in a long conversation with Andrew about Russian gays, Putin’s policies, and what we should do about them here. A sample: