Thursday, 11 July 2013

The Iron Curtain closes - Russia's anti-LGBTI adoption agenda

A few months ago, I looked in one of my blogs at Anglo-Russian intercountry adoption developments.  This followed the vote in the Commons in this country in favour of marriage equality.  In response, Russian officials warned that there might be consequences for British nationals seeking to adopt Russian children.

It turns out that wasn’t just sabre-rattling.  True to their word, the Russian parliament adopted a bill on support for orphaned children in its third and final reading in late June 2013.  The new law imposes a ban on the adoption of Russian national children by same-sex foreign couples.  Head of the parliamentary Committee on Security and Resistance to Corruption, Irina Yarovava, said:

"The decision to prohibit foreign same-sex couples from adopting Russian children is a measure to ensure the children’s safety and constitutional rights.

"Attempts to simulate the institution of the family and demands for allowing adoptions by same-sex couples are unnatural from the standpoint of the laws of nature and the institution of family law."

On 3 July 2013, President Vladimir Putin signed off on the legislation.  The Kremlin said in a Statement that:

“the measure is aimed at guaranteeing a harmonious and full upbringing for children in adoptive families.” 

For good measure, the new law also forbids adoptions by unmarried individuals who live in countries with laws that permit same-sex unions.

Russia’s recent track-record on LGBTI issues is hardly a commendable one, with parliament voting in mid-June almost unanimously to pass a law to punish the “promotion” of homosexuality with fines and gaol terms.  The law bans what it calls the “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” to minors. The word “homosexual” was removed from the text but in parliament one of the law’s backers said “traditional” relations were between a man and a woman.

It outlaws the spreading of information aimed at forming non-traditional sexual attitudes among children,” said Duma deputy Elena Mizulina.  She also confirmed that it would become an offence to say that gay and straight relationships were equal, describing that as “a distorted perception”. 

Under the law people can be fined up to a maximum of over €2,000 if the offence is committed via the media.  Foreigners who promote homosexuality can be fined, detained for 15 days and deported.

That bill will now go to the Russian Senate before being signed into law by President Vladimir Putin – steps considered to be a formality.

Back to adoption:  according to New York’s Russian Children’s Welfare Society, there are currently more than 700,000 orphans in Russia.  This figure is increasing annually at a rate of 113,000 children.

Some of those hundreds of thousands of vulnerable children will be denied a chance to experience a loving family environment, on account of a prejudice about how worthy or otherwise prospective adopters are based upon their sexual equipment.  A view which runs contrary to all credible studies on topic, which consistently show the sexual orientation of adoptive or foster parents makes precisely no difference to the quality of the parenting they provide (see, for example, Cambridge University’s Centre for Family Studies’ research from March 2013).  

The real tragedy is that, whilst mewling about guaranteeing children a harmonious and full upbringing, the rule which excludes a particular group of individuals as potential adopters achieves just the opposite.  It only serves to narrow the pool of potential adopters and to ensure that vulnerable children in need of a stable family placement are denied one. 

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