Pavel Tupikov and his partner, Igor Popialkovskii, are fighting German courts against their deportation to homophobic Russia. The gay couple do not want to return to Putin’s empire, where gays are prosecuted.
However, a German judge does not believe that they are together or actually gay, and have ordered them to return to Russia.
The couple decided to flee Russia after they were blackmailed by a neighbor and a policeman. “My ex-boyfriend had been stabbed,” Popialkovskii says. “All our friends live there in great fear.”
How to rent a flat together? No chance. After a hate attack, expect help from the police? Naive. You can be killed for a kiss in public. There is a regular hunt for gays, a man with whom I once had something was killed a year ago in St. Petersburg: on a fake date. The murderer, who killed my ex with 22 stabs, was arrested. He only received the minimum penalty: eight years. Normally you get 20 years for such an act. This, of course, is a political sign.
Tupikov attended a hearing at the Administrative Court of Regensburg, Bavaria on June 26 where he had to answer invasive questions about his sex life. He was appealing a deportation order from the Federal Office for Migration (BAMF).
“I had to talk about sex only for four hours. He asked me when I had my first time, with whom and how it was. He wanted to know everything exactly, “says Tupikov. “The judge also said he does not believe that we are a couple.”
Tupikov and his partner Popialkovskii are also victims the current political climate in Germany. Because of Germany’s intake of refugees (more than one million since 2015), there is pressure before September elections to deny asylum seekers who are not from war zones. This includes people like Tupikov and Popialkovskii.
“In other federal states, the persecution of homosexuals in Russia is recognized as a cause of escape,” the two said. But not in Bavaria.
The men are struggling to cover the legal fees of their appeal cases, but would rather live poor than go back to Russia. Human rights group Amnesty International has taken up their case.
“We often have to go hungry because we can not buy food,” says Igor.
But going back to Russia? This is unimaginable for the two. “There are propaganda programs on Russian television, there is not talk of Europe, but of Gayropa,” says Tupikov. “Recently, there was a show in which homosexuals were promised a ticket to the US because Russia was trying to be “cleaned” of them.”
The couple have not yet given up hope that they can stay. Popialkovskii soon starts an apprenticeship as a tax expert and both of them are studying German intensively.
On July 25, the judge will continue their case. Tupikov hopes that he will not have to face humiliating questions about his sexual life.
“How can I prove that we are a couple?” he asks. “Should we kiss in court?”
Anything to not go back to Russia.
“Once you know what freedom is, you will not go back to prison. To live openly gay, changed the thoughts. You can see much more clearly how much you have been suppressed in the past, how much fear and hide-and-seek have dominated our lives. Since we feel like humans for the first time, we realize that we can not hide anymore. Never again.”