Will the Russian Government’s “Family Code” Tear Apart Same-Sex Parented Families?
By Trevor Allen
In September, in an attempt to further marginalize Russia’s LGBT community, Russian lawmaker Alexei Zhuravlyov proposed an anti-gay law that would strip same-sex parents of their parental rights. The draconian bill, an amendment to the Russian Federation’s “Family Code,” equates same-sex parenting to drug addiction, child endangerment, and sexual abuse. Fortunately, the Parliament tabled the bill late last year, citing a need to amend its language. A dubious claim, considering the increasing wave of international outcry that began with President Vladimir Putin’s signing of the anti-gay “propaganda” bill in June that is now reaching a crescendo as Sochi’s Opening Ceremony approaches.
Unfortunately, the legislation will likely reappear when the Olympics are over. Zhuravlyov claims to have drafted a new version of the bill, which proposes that in instances in which a couple were to divorce due to one of the parents coming out as gay, the heterosexual parent would retain exclusive custody of the child. Although the Russian authorities have yet to make arrests of same-sex couples with children, the anti-”propaganda” law labels any affirmation of familial normalcy by LGBT parents illegal.
CNN interviewed lesbian parents in the wake of Zhuravlyov’s announcement. The couple omitted any personal information out of fear of legal repercussions, but when asked about what it’s like being a gay couple raising a child in Russia, they answered, “You have to keep quiet.” One of the mothers gave birth to their child while she was married to a man, and under the proposed bill, she would lose her parental rights to the biological father. While the couple considers themselves patriots, they expressed that they would move elsewhere if need be to prevent their child from living a lie.
The Russian LGBT community has been suffering harassment and an increased culture of violence against them since officials began to implement bans on propaganda of homosexuality on the regional level in 2006. With the approach of the Olympic Games, the world has focused its attention on Russia’s egregious LGBT rights violations and things have begun to improve, yet fears persist that the international community will turn a blind eye when the Olympic torch leaves Sochi. Human Rights First urges the United States to keep pressure on the Russian government after the Games to repeal the anti-propaganda” law and halt any legislation that would infringe on the rights of LGBT Russians.