Gay Asylum-Seeker Is Stuck in Immigration Detention

denis davydov
Denis Davydov

Denis Davydov, 30, a gay HIV-positive Russian asylum-seeker, has been detained for a month at an Immigration and Customs Enforcement center in Florida since returning to the United States after visiting the U.S. Virgin Islands, reports KPIX, a TV station in San Francisco.

Davydov came to the U.S. legally in 2014, but he overstayed a six-month visa. After he was detained by ICE, he applied for political asylum, said Sergey Piskunov, a member of RUSA LGBT, a Russian LGBT group.

“He’s a gay man and HIV-positive,” Piskunov told KPIX. “Russia is not the best place for either of those and he’s a combination of both.”

He was detailed by federal agents at an airport when he was on his way home to the Bay Area. “They checked his documents, and he said they were trying really hard to find something wrong,” Piskunov said. “They put him on a plane to Miami and transported him to Florida.”

A spokesman for ICE in Florida confirmed to KPIX that Davydov is in the agency’s custody. Davydov is currently receiving HIV medications in detention, but he needs doctor and hasn’t been given acesss to one, Piskunov told KPIX. “This is one of the reasons we really want to get him out of there,” Piskunov said.

Piskunov is afraid of what might happen to Davydov if he is deported to Russia. “I believe he’s not going to live too long,” Piskunov said. “We have several friends in common who passed away because of HIV consequences.”

“They have money for war in Ukraine, Crimea, Syria — they have money for all these military expenses but they don’t have money for the medical system,” Piskunov said of Russia. “And they don’t care.”

Russia has been a center of controversy recently, after reports emerged that gay and bisexual men are being rounded up and detained in camps in Chechnya, a semiautonomous republic within Russia. A Russian newspaper reported that at least 100 men have been detained and three men killed. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chechen authorities continue to deny the reports, despite survivors speaking out about the torture they faced in the camps.