September 16, 2020
They took their sons to the hospital for a suspected case of appendicitis. What happened next was something they never would have imagined.
Children forcefully separated from their Fathers:
In 2010, a gay couple decided to adopt. Hence, one of the men from the relationship legally adopted 2 boys who are now aged 12 and 14. On 19th of June, the father’s admitted their children to the Moscow hospital for a suspected case of appendicitis. When the assigned doctor realised that the son is raised by two dads, he immediately reported the parents to the Investigative Committee of Russia. The Committee ordered the authorities to separate the children from their fathers.
What happened next?
According to Queerty, the Russian authorities hunted the fathers and took their children away from them because the country’s law forbids exposure of minors to “gay propaganda.” This is the first time that Russia has used its 2013 law that prohibits “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relationships” as a means of separating a gay couple from their adopted children. Gay Star News reported,
“Authorities from the Committee tried multiple times to search the dads’ apartment and those of their immediate family. Eventually, investigators broke down the doors of the men and one of their brothers. They also interrogated one of their fathers for more than three hours.”
Since adoption, the adoption agency in Lyublino has regularly visited the family and said that the couple looked after their sons well. However, the Investigative Committee has charged the employees of the social protection department with negligence, for allowing the boys to be brought up by a gay couple.
Committee’s Investigation report said:
“A man has been raising two young adopted boys since 2010 in living conditions with another man. At the same time, he promotes unconventional relations, forming distorted ideas about family values in children, harming their health, moral and spiritual development. [The adoption agency didn’t take] appropriate measures to protect minors from information harmful to their health and development.’”
Two local organisations, Stimul from Moscow, and Coming Out from St. Petersburg have been working together to provide legal help to the fathers. Stimul worries that this law might be used against other same-sex families. It might lead to the annulment of adoptions and separation of parents from their children. On 15th July, Valentina Matvienki, a speaker of Russia’s upper house Federation Council said, ‘What will allowing same-sex couples to adopt children lead to? It’ll simply lead to the extinction of mankind.’
Is a website responsible for an LGBT+ activist’s murder?
‘SAW’ inspired website:
In 2018, A website inspired by the horror movie franchise ‘SAW’ was designed to encourage users to hunt and torture individuals from the LGBT+ community. The so-called ‘game’ persuaded users to provide information, photos, and even addresses of LGBT+ people for others to locate and attack. The website charged its users a fee to gain access to the information. If the users’ found their own details on the database, they had to pay an additional fee to have it removed.
“Chechnya’s comeback” was the name of the operation with reference to the gay purge in Chechnya. The purge held about 200 gay people in secret prisons in the summer of 2017, with over 26 people murdered.
After operating for more than a year, the website has been finally taken down by the authorities, on July 20th. The Russian LGBT Network said:
“A homophobic group began to operate in Russia, organising the hunt for homosexual, bisexual and transgender people, in the spring of 2018….Despite the media attention, law enforcement agencies have still not done anything to find the creators of this ‘game’ and bring them to justice.”
LGBT Activist killed:
Many have received death threats due to this website including the owner of Russian LGBT network, Misha Tumasov. At least 3 men were harmed after the website launch. However, the number of attacks associated with this website is unknown.
On 21st July, Yelena Grigoriyeva, a prominent LGBT rights activist, was found dead in the bushes near her house. The 41-year-old had multiple stab wounds (at least 8 times) and signs of strangulation. There are speculations that the website might be responsible for her death since Yelena’s name was on the list of LGBT activist that was published by the website. She regularly received death threats and reported it to the police, but no protection was given to her.
On Thursday, the Investigative Committee of Russia detained a 38-year-old from Kyrgyzstan as the main suspect for the murder. The police have to say that the cause of the killing was a result of domestic abuse. Also, evidence suggests that the activist knew the suspect.
Reaction to the death:
Since Grigoriyeva’s death, several LGBT activists, listed on the website, went to Investigative Committee to analyse whether the website had a role in her death. Supporters came together on Tuesday in St.Petersburg in honour of her memory.
Maxim Olennichec, a lawyer from Vykhod LGBT rights group said,
“This could be hatred on grounds of political convictions, homophobia or a domestic dispute. Every lead needs to be considered, and those guilty found and punished,”
– As reported by The Moscow Times
According to the Police, all scenarios have been considered. They even examined the threats complaints. However, the department still maintains that the death was a result of domestic disputes. They said that none of those threats was life-threatening.
European Court places fine on Russia:
In mid-July, the European Court of Human Rights fined the Russian government 42,500 euros. Reason? As damages for refusing registration of 3 LGBT rights groups in the past years.
Between the years 2006 and 2011, the Movement for Marriage Equality, Rainbow House, and the Sochi Pride tried to register each of their organisations with the Government. However, the government refused registration claiming that these entities:
“will destroy the moral values of society” or “undermine [Russia’s] sovereignty and territorial integrity…by decreasing its population.”
-As reported by Human Rights Watch
According to the government, allowing registration of such organisations would undermine the “Gay propaganda” law. The law is aimed to protect minors from information about LGBT people and their lives. The ban includes any form of information, whether through press, radio or the web.
Ever since the establishment of the anti- LGBT ‘gay propaganda’ law in 2013, there has been an increase in harassment, violence, and stigma against the LGBT community. Organisations including the European Court of Human Rights, and the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child, have criticised the law.
Want to read more? Nepal: Always at the forefront of LGBTI rights?
Source Credit: BBC, Gay Star News, Human Rights Watch, LGBTQ Nation, Newsweek, The Guardian, The Moscow Times, Pink News, Queerty