A trip to the emergency room soon turned into a nightmare for two dads, who have had their adopted children taken away from them. Lawyers for the men have described their situation as ‘terrifying’ as Russian authorities try to seperate them from their children.
On 19 June, two men brought one of their sons to a Moscow hospital to treat a suspected case of appendicitis. The men remain unnamed for their own safety.
But the doctor found out the boy had two dads and immediately reported them to the Investigative Committee of Russia. The Committee went on to sue the social workers who approved the children’s adoption for ‘negligence’. It also ordered authorities remove the boys from their family home.
In July, things got worse. 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.
The Committee decided the adoption contravened Russia’s controversial ‘gay propaganda’ law. Introduced in the 2013, the law forbids the positive representation of LGBTI people in media. The government argued the law stopped the ‘promotion of nontraditional sexual relations to minors’.
LGBTI groups Stimul in Moscow and Coming Out in St. Petersburg joined forces to support the men and provide them legal assistance.
Polina, an activist for Coming Out told Gay Star News this was the first time authorities had used the ‘gay propaganda’ law to justify the removal of children from a family home.
The dads and their modern family
One of the men in the relationship legally adopted the two boys now aged 12 and 14 in 2010. Same-sex couples are not allowed to adopt children in Russia, but single people are.
According to their lawyers, the adoption agency in Lyublino carried out regular visits to the home from 2010 to 2019. The agency reported the men looked after the boys very well.
‘The neighbors of the couple were present during the search. They gave comments to the media, in which they said only good things about the family,’ said Polina.
‘According to them, they did not notice any signs of trouble, the children grew up in an intelligent and calm atmosphere, and the parents took care of the children.’
A loving home
Polina told Gay Star News that a psychologist who assessed the family found no evidence of abuse. In fact, the psychologist reported ‘a healthy and close emotional connection between parents and children’.
Her and other LGBTI advocates in Russia are very concerned what this case means for the community there.
‘This is terrifying that this happened,’ she said.
‘After the adoption of the so-called ‘gay propaganda’ law in 2013 on the federal level, it became apparent that this law was going to be a tool of oppression of the LGBTI community.’
She argued the law is written so vaguely it does not make clear which actions are illegal or not.
‘The only thing LGBTI people can do to be completely safe is to stay invisible, hide their SOGIE (sexual orientation and gender identity), lie in their social environment,’ Polina said.
‘It also became clear that same-sex families with children were going to be the most vulnerable group under this law, because under this law, you are ‘doing propaganda’ every day just by being a family.
‘We were all scared for families with adopted children, because it would be so easy to annul adoptions and break up families.’
She added: ‘This precedent will also pose a huge threat to all existing same-sex families, driving them further underground.’
‘These trends will cause huge harm, first and foremost to the children, who otherwise could have loving and supportive families,’ Polina said.