LGBT refugees seek asylum with FUR/HELP while Russia limits human rights

by Patch O'Furr

This news is illegal in Russia.

In late November 2023, Russia’s supreme court declared the movement for gay rights to be “extremist.” Mentioning LGBTQ activity without condemning it can get you fined, imprisoned, deprived of bank accounts, and worse. The New York Times says “any news organization, blogger or even an individual” is at risk.

Russian homophobes have pushed for this authoritarian rule for a long time. In 2021, it was proposed against LGBT and associated categories, including furries. This led to Dogpatch Press reports about harassment of Russian furry events that foreshadowed the official ruling now.

The excuse is to “protect children” from gay adults who love each other, as if they were created by an international political group that doesn’t exist, rather than by human nature. Any sign of their existence can be defined as harmful propaganda. The definition is so broad and vague that Russia’s government can punish anyone for anything, even wearing a rainbow. (Fandom is for creative expression, which has a lot of overlap with identity expression, so claims to be apolitical can’t be counted on to protect anyone.) The effects have ranged from putting adult rating on My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic, to murdering people in one furry’s story below.

While Russia’s government labels this extremist, they’re protecting people from cartoons while raising murder. People in this upside-down land need to flee for safety.

The mission of FUR/HELP

Many refugees have dramatic stories of escaping danger, but few have guides like FUR/HELP, a Furry LGBTQIA+ Refugee initiative to save clients in post-Soviet regions and American Trans lives from persecution.

YukiDeer, the founder and ambassador, explains their work:

We are working to help refugees since November 2022, and since then have helped more than 5 furry refugees escape to safe third countries to wait for their transfer to a destination asylum country.

We helped a person that withstood torture in a psychiatric hospital. They were loaded with drugs to a vegetable-like state just because they were transgender. Their family put them into the facility as far as we know, and basically had to flee with help of other nonprofits. FUR/HELP helped the person when they arrived to one of the post-Soviet countries. We provided funds for food, a hostel until they could find stable housing, and advice on legal conditions and how to find support and work.

We helped two transgender people in dangerous situations with advice on how to access LGBTQIA services in the USA to get help with housing, and helped other people find housing as well.

And finally, we helped 1 Ukrainian homosexual flee occupied regions of Ukraine with help of other non profits. It was scary.

We plan to base ourselves in Canada, but for now we are 100% remote, with people volunteering for us mostly in Eastern Europe.

YukiDeer’s bio includes IT worker, Twitch streamer, and maker of design and music with a lot of personal stake in this: “I actively act as a LGBTQIA+ rights activist in EU and NA regions. I was raised in Ukraine, but born in Russia. I’m also in the process of establishing Furry Philanthropy Community or FPC for short — platform for Furry run NGOs and singular philanthropes to coordinate humanitarian action.”

More soon about how and why YukiDeer established FUR/HELP, but let’s look at what refugees are reaching for.

The need for asylum and the benefit of humanitarian aid.

The legal process for gaining citizenship is easiest for people with means and opportunity, savings, a job, family, or partner to support them without burdening the system. Those conditions are lacking for many refugees who are forced to flee from disaster, poverty and violence in places that lack human rights.

Their alternative is to claim humanitarian aid with asylum. That’s not just a burden, it raises international security that benefits everyone already in a country by keeping neighbors stable. To get it, an immigrant may have little choice except to risk punishing conditions to cross a border without permission so they can apply. Law about border crossing doesn’t remove the human right to apply as a refugee – and because it is a long process, they have the status until it is decided.

There are common attacks at “illegals” and supposed crime they bring (immigrants may have lower rates than citizens) that don’t even try to count the benefit, or wasted cost to make the process harder. Reports of a recent surge in immigration to the USA will make this a big issue in coming elections. (Don’t forget that controversy about burdening the system has coincided with record high corporate profits.)

LGBT refugees can try to get help from a nonprofit like Rainbow Railroad, but such services seem to be stretched thin and hard to get. This common frustration led YukiDeer to found FUR/HELP for others while seeking asylum personally.

A “nightmare” with a lifeline from other furries – YukiDeer’s story.

YukiDeer hopes to have asylum one day soon:

I fled murder and help others do the same. I might not be fully safe myself, but after seeing how others treat refugees, I can’t just stand and do nothing.

So basically, at first I had my father threaten me with murder, then I had forced treatment in a mental facility just because of suspicion that I’m gay. Then came the worsening of LGBTQIA+ rights overall and it crossed the line of multiple murders near my home that had a person castrated just for being gay. I can’t disclose the details since I’m not in safety yet, but on my way to it.

Now with the risk of extremist title, it feels even more dangerous, I don’t feel safe even out of Russia.

I raised money to escape, tried to flee multiple times, and only the 3rd worked, thanks to Soatok who helped me with the financial side of the story. Without him, I’d be best case hiding, worst case dead or imprisoned.

That’s how a story of a simple streamer furry guy can turn into a nightmare.

Dogpatch Press asked for more thoughts about family relations, the experience of being confined, how it felt, and what kind of justice can happen there?

At the time of the threat I was under 18, I have a sister and she is a cisgender straight woman, she was treated harshly by my father, but of course not as harsh. He was pretty mentally unstable, he drank a lot and was tend to get physical, he did hit his mother and I witnessed it, plus he has connections to certain government related people, so that would make it pretty easy to threaten people. Mother heard the threat and didn’t do anything. The threats were sparse, but the verbal abuse and heated behavior happened daily. In my family I was the only one that got treated this way, and I’m also the only LGBTQIA+ person. No one in my family knows I am, they assumed I was gay.

Yes, I was in a mental facility with drug addicts, people with anger issues and two LGBTQIA people, I remember they were lesbian. My class teacher wrote a bad review about me suddenly after I happened to tell my classmate I was gay. I don’t know if she knew about it, but it felt too sudden. They used mental force and threats like “I wouldn’t be able to continue studying without attending”. Maybe they thought I would break and say that I’m gay. Thankfully staff weren’t bad, but they did feed me medicine without any description as to what it does and why I should take it, and if I didn’t take it, they would transfer me to a harsher facility.

I felt scared, not knowing who to talk to, since I didn’t have anyone in my life I could trust except people on the internet, so my streams became that place. I hated my family more and more, since I felt that they won’t bring me anything but hurt. I felt envy at people having a good family, cried when I saw people hugging, kissing or displaying “good family vibes” publicly, same goes to those that didn’t have to hide. I just felt really envious and hurt.

I saw the murders via news articles, they happened with same motive and in same proximate region. I didn’t witness murder, but I was in a dangerous area, we had people shooting, and drunk people hitting someone pretty often. I don’t know who did it personally, but I know why, because they happened to be gay. If they got what they deserve, I don’t know, police didn’t seem to react at all, all was said that “It’s under investigation”.

Final word from YukiDeer:

It doesn’t take much to help others. Just empathy and a strong will.

Help has no borders. LGBTQIA+ refugees are not defined by their oppression, but by their resilience.

To join us in our mission as a volunteer, donate to us as a contributor or ask help as a refugee, simply go to our social media at Linktree:

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