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Russia: Lesbian Wins Victory In U.S. Court

Washington, 27 June 1997 (RFE/RL) -- A U.S court has ruled that Russian prosecutor's efforts to cure a Russian lesbian of her homosexuality amounted to persecution.

Alla Pitcherskaia, 35, came to the United States in 1992 and sought political asylum because she said she was persecuted as a lesbian in Russia.

Her asylum application was initially denied by a federal immigration judge in 1994. The decision was upheld by the U.S. Board of Immigration Appeals in 1995.

The Board rejected Pitcherskaia's claim saying even if she was confined to a psychiatric ward and threatened with shock therapy, as she claimed, it could not be considered as persecution because the actions were intended to treat, not to punish.

Pitcherskaia filed an appeal in a state court in San Francisco, California. On Tuesday, the court overturned earlier rulings and ordered the Board to review her case again.

Peg Byron of the Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, America's largest lesbian and gay legal organization and the group handling Pitcherskaia's case, told RFE/RL the court's decision was a victory for Pitcherskaia and for all gay people around the world.