Gay journalist fights Uzbek deportation 

Gay journalist fights Uzbek deportation 

An openly gay journalist for Russia’s only independent newspaper has appealed to a court to grant him refugee status in a bid to avoid deportation to Uzbekistan for alleged migration violations.

Ali Feruz has worked in Moscow since 2011 for Novaya Gazeta, where he has reported on hate crimes, the rights of migrant workers and discrimination against the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community.

Homosexuality is treated as a crime punishable by imprisonment in Uzbekistan.

Feruz, whose real name is Khudoberdi Nurmatov, is an Uzbek national who fled the oppressive state in 2008 after he was arrested and tortured by the security forces, who tried to force him to become an informant, according to Human Rights Watch.

The European Union’s human rights commissioner, Nils Muižnieks, has called for his release. “It should be recalled that international law prohibits sending a person to a country where there are substantial grounds for believing that the person may be subjected to torture or ill-treatment,” Muižnieks posted on Facebook.

Feruz can count on a job and a residency permit in Germany while torture awaits him in Uzbekistan, according to his colleagues.

Last week a Russian court ruled that the Russian-born journalist with a Russian mother be deported to Uzbekistan. Feruz is being held in a deportation centre outside Moscow. An appeal challenging his expulsion from Russia has been launched.

Germany has said a residency permit on “humanitarian grounds” was on offer. “If it were up to us, the next step would be very simple,” a German diplomatic source told DW.

Feruz is legally a citizen of Russia and Uzbekistan.

“It’s not a death sentence, but it’s very close to that,” Denis Krivosheyev, Amnesty International’s deputy regional director.

A European Court of Human Rights ruling said Moscow could not deport Feruz to Uzbekistan until further notice.

Feruz does not have a passport as he says it was stolen years ago and he said applying for a replacement would risk being abducted by the Uzbek security services.

Dmitry Muratov, editor-in-chief at Novaya Gazeta, said the International Committee of the Red Cross was prepared to provide Feruz with travel documents and assist him in leaving Russia.

Feruz has been offered a position in a project for Syrian refugees at the University of Göttingen. Feruz speaks Arabic and other languages with the position reportedly being financed by the Boris Nemtsov Foundation.

Demonstrations in Geneva against Chechen LGBT persecution in June. Picture credit: Wikimedia

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