George Budny told the Washington Blade during a telephone interview last week that U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services on July 30 formally approved his request.
Spectrum Human Rights, an LGBT rights organization, helped Budny find a lawyer to work on his petition. He has also received assistance from the D.C. Center and his boyfriend in the nation’s capital with whom he lives.
“I’m very happy,” said Budny.
Budny, who is from St. Petersburg, told the Blade during an exclusive interview in February that he planned to seek asylum in the U.S. because of anti-gay persecution he said he faced in Russia.
He said his father kicked him out of his family’s apartment in 2007 after finding “Queer As Folk” DVDs in his bedroom. Budny told the Blade he faced a “hate campaign” at the St. Petersburg hospital where had worked as a resident.
Budny said he was attacked three times in St. Petersburg since 2009 because of his sexual orientation.
“I have suffered persecution and discrimination in Russia due to my political views and sexual orientation,” Budny told the Blade in February. “I am fearful for my safety, the safety of my family and friends and fearful of the fact that I will never be allowed to become a productive and successful member of society in my home country.”
The Kremlin’s LGBT rights record — which includes a law banning so-called gay propaganda to minors that President Vladimir Putin signed in June 2013 — overshadowed the 2014 Winter Olympics that took place in Sochi, Russia, earlier this year.
Six HIV/AIDS researchers and advocates who were traveling to the 2014 International AIDS Conference in Australia were among the passengers on a Malaysian airliner that pro-Russian separatists apparently shot down over eastern Ukraine last month.
Budny told the Blade his mother is “very happy” he will receive asylum in the U.S., but “overwhelmed because there’s so many things happening around her at this time, especially with Russia engaged in this essentially Cold War kind of rhetoric.”
“She is somewhat confused to know what’s going on around her,” he said. “I’m sure she’s happy that I am staying in the U.S. and a bit emotional that unfortunately she cannot see me again anytime soon.”
In the meantime, Budny plans to change his Social Security number that will allow him to work in the U.S. He also told the Blade he also plans to volunteer at Whitman-Walker Health and other organizations.
Budny said he would like to once again be a doctor.
“I can’t wait to go back into the industry as soon as possible,” he told the Blade. “I’ve been away for far too long.”