Gay couple granted asylum in Finland after fleeing Russia

A Russian couple have reportedly been granted asylum in Finland, after fleeing persecution in their home country.

Gay couple Vladimir Naumov and Vasily Kolesnikov fled Russia amid rising anti-gay sentiment, following the introduction of Vladimir Putin’s ‘gay propaganda’ law in 2013.

The pair last year applied for asylum in Finland, which shares a border with northern Russia, arguing that they face discrimination in Russia.

Finnish newspaper Helsingin Sanomat reports today that the pair’s application has been successful, and they will be allowed to stay in Finland.

Mr Naumov and Mr Kolesnikov now live in the town of Rovaniemi, Lapland – and are learning to speak Finnish to communicate with the locals.

Finland’s culture is much less hostile to LGBT people – and same-sex weddings are set to begin in the country, after an initiative passed last year.

In November, the Finnish Parliament passed a citizens’ initiative on gender-neutral marriage by a tight vote of 105-92, after a number of previous defeats.

In February, the country’s President Sauli Niinistö signed into law the initiative – which came about as a result of a public petition signed by over 167,000 voters. It is the first time that an initiative has actually become law in the country.

However, due to the length of the process, weddings are not set to begin until 2017.

In the UK, LGBT asylum groups recently celebrated the suspension of the government’s ‘fast track’ asylum appeals system – which they have long argued is ‘rigged’ against asylum seekers.