By Stan Sarkisov
Alice Board, Communications Committee
For 17 days this February, the world’s attention intensified on Russia’s discriminatory ‘anti-gay propaganda’ law and the subsequent rise in violence against LGBT people. LGBT athletes medaled (even cuddled with Putin), and allies “protested” with colorful helmets. And then they left.
An LGBT Russian Refugee Fund, created by the Horizons Foundation, supports asylum seekers and refugees relocating to the United States—especially the East Bay, which has been identified by the U.S. State Department as a receiving area. Upon arrival, the Fund will cover grantees’ housing, health, and legal assistance costs, and other necessary expenses.
“Horizons has a history of getting resources to all parts of the LGBT community, especially the most in need. Today, we see folks experiencing horrible persecution in Russia, in several African countries, and in different parts of the globe. The LGBT community has a long history of helping each other; it’s part of who we are as a community,” says Horizons’ Director of Grantmaking and Community Initiatives Francisco Buchting.
The LGBT Russian Refugee Fund raised close to $2,000 at its kick-off fundraiser on the same day as the Sochi Opening Ceremonies.
“In setting up the LGBT Russian Refugee Fund, we wanted to compliment other efforts that are ongoing, like the Russian Freedom Fund by the Arcus foundation, which sends money to LGBT activists in Russia, the Horizons fund will focus on helping LGBT people once they arrive to the U.S.” Buchting explains.
With further anti-LGBT laws anticipated after the Olympics, hundreds of Russian same-sex families are ready to flee once an expected bill strips LGBT parents of custodial rights.
“Resources have to get to people as soon as possible once they arrive in the US and have filed their asylum application due to up to a 150 days waiting period before one can apply for permission to work in the US. This means that it takes significant amount of funds to help in the relocation of LGBT people seeking asylum in the U.S.,” Buchting says.
Alice members are welcome to contribute to this Fund, or the LGBTI Cameroon Fund, which similarly helps relocate and reunite families from the west central African nation that arrests more homosexuals than any other country in the world. Donations can be made online at www.horizonsfoundation.org, or via checks mailed to the Horizons Foundation located at 550 Montgomery Street, Suite 700, San Francisco, California 94111. Please specify that the donation are for the LGBT Russian Refugee Fund or the LGBTI Cameroon Fund.