On Saturday we reported that Russia had accidentally recognized a gay couple's marriage. Now they are in hiding after threats from authorities.
Pavel Stotsko and Yevgeny Voitsekhovsky were married in Denmark earlier this month. When they returned to Russia and submitted their passports to a clerk in Moscow, the clerk put marriage stamps on them.
Although homosexuality is not illegal in Russia, gay marriage is. Stotsko said, however, that he had exploited a legal loophole, citing a law that means Russia recognises marriages registered abroad. He posted online photos of the stamps in the passports, a move that sparked widespread outrage. Vitaly Milonov, a Russian MP and the author of Russia's law banning so-called gay propaganda, said the marriage stamps had no legal validity and likened the couple to “stinking goats”.
The clerk who stamped the passports has been fired and police declared their passports invalid. They've also had an administrative case opened against them for “intentionally defacing an official document” according to the Russian rights group LGBT Network.
Some reports says that Stotsko and Voitsekhovsky have fled the country. Russian LGBT Network says they are in a “safe location” and being assisted.
We will briefly address how the situation with Pavel Stotsko and Evgenii Voitsekhovskii has concluded. The plainclothes law enforcement officers attempted all day to enter their apartment. As witnesses have stated, the officers claimed they only wanted to deliver a court summons (they did not explain anything to Pavel and Evgenii personally), and, for reasons unknown, the officers switched off the electricity in Pavel and Evgenii's apartment.
When these events became known, lawyers, activists and media reporters were sent to help them out, but even the presence of attorneys did not compel the law enforcement officers to leave. As it turned out, the officers' main priority was to seize the already known to be invalidated passports (the deputy head of the Moscow police department, A.A. Zakharov, himself came to the scene to try to persuade the men). Negotiations carried on until two o'clock in the morning. In the end, the passports had to be handed over. Pavel and Evgenii are currently at a safe location, and we will continue to assist them.