News (World)

Bill to deny LGBT parents custody of their children advances in Russian parliament

MOSCOW — A bill that would strip same-sex couples and LGBT individuals of custody of their children has advanced in the Russian parliament.

The bill’s language states says that government officials will be able to remove children from homes of parents if they practice “non-traditional sexual relations,” the term used in Russian laws to describe relationships between people of the same gender.

AP (File)
LGBT rights advocates protest Russia’s anti-gay laws at a rally in St. Petersburg, Russia, earlier this year.

The bill, an amendment to the Russian Federal Family Code, also cited other grounds — including alcoholism, drug use, and abuse — as basis for removal from custody.

A spokesperson for the Russian Duma confirmed that the debate over the measure, published on the website of the Duma’s Lower House of Deputies (Parliament) would likely be scheduled for debate in February, which would coincide with the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi.

A legislative note on the website explaining the bill indicated that the measure was “in-line” with the current “gay propaganda” law.

That law, signed by Russian President Vladimir Putin in June, has already been a flash-point with gay rights activists and their allies around the globe, spurring demonstrations protesting the treatment of LGBT people in Russia, and prompting calls for a boycott of the Winter games.

Putin has also signed companion legislation that banned the adoption of Russian children by same-sex couples in other nations or by couples from nations who permit same-sex marriage.

Innokenty ‘Kes’ Grekov, the Russian coordinator with the New York-based Human Rights First, a global Human Rights advocacy group, told LGBTQ Nation on Thursday that the custody bill is “yet another case of removal of freedoms for Russian LGBTQI people.”

“But while this bill is on the docket, it still has many different places within the Duma to go before it reaches debate,” he said. “So, chances are there to stop bill. However, this bill is also in the same committee where the (gay) propaganda bill originated.”

Grekov noted that a recent ruling by the Ryazan Oblast (Regional) court last month that dismissed an administrative charge against a lesbian activist under a regional “gay propaganda” law, may in fact give LGBTQI Russians hope for legal space and he expressed optimism that international protest may affect the bill’s fate.

Alexei Zhuravlev, the bill’s author and chief sponsor, said his measure is designed to protect children from “thieves, sinners, and corrupters.”

In that bill, Zhuravlev cited a controversial study on same-sex parenting conducted in 2012 by University of Texas professor Mark Regnerus, which claimed that adult children of lesbian mothers reported lower income and poorer health than children brought up by heterosexual couples.

Zhuravlev said that if a single mother was found to be gay, placing the child in an orphanage “would be an appropriate action” and that she should “definitely be deprived of her rights to the child.”

“Homosexuals must not raise children,” he said. “They corrupt them. They do them much more harm than if the child were in an orphanage. I am deeply convinced of this.”

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