Ð same-sex Russian couple with two kids, aged 12 and 14, fled the country this summer after being targeted by authorities citing Russiaâ€™s notorious â€œgay propagandaâ€ law. Their story is a particularly disturbing example of the state doing deep damage to children and families in the name of â€œchild protectionâ€ and â€œtraditional values.â€
The parents, who have been together for 11 years and registered their marriage in Denmark, adopted the boys nine and seven years ago respectively. Only one of the two men was registered as the adoptive father because in Russia same-sex couples cannot apply for adoption. The family lived in Moscow until their life started unraveling on June 18 this year after the younger boy was hospitalized with suspected appendicitis. When a doctor asked him about his â€œmom,â€ the child said he had â€œtwo dads.â€
The men said on same day the hospital sent a letter to Russiaâ€™s chief investigative agency and the Prosecutor Generalâ€™s Office alleging child abuse linked to the parentsâ€™ â€œnon-traditional sexual orientation.â€ The next day, an investigator invited the adoptive father for a â€œconversationâ€ about their family life. The couple then left the country with the children, fearing social services might take the boys away.
Moscow’s social protection department said they had not received any complaints against the men and case workers from the state guardianship office gave the family a positive evaluation. But on July 17, the case workers for the family were charged with inadequate performance of duties, a criminal offense punishable by up to three months in prison. In the spirit of the â€œgay propagandaâ€ ban, the investigators stated that the social workers had failed to take action despite knowing that the adoptive father â€œpromoted non-traditional relationships, thus shaping distorted ideas about family values in childrenâ€™s minds and harming their health, moral and spiritual development.â€
On July 19, police in Moscow searched the familyâ€™s apartment in their absence and police in Magnitogorsk searched the apartment of relatives.
The coupleâ€™s lawyer Maxim Olenichev told Human Rights Watch that itâ€™s not clear which charges, if any, the authorities were planning to bring against his clients. But one thing is clear: the criminal charges against the social workers are clearly meant as a warning to other officials that gay people should be viewed as unfit for parenthood.