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As A Gay Parent I Must Flee Russia Or Lose My Children
5 years ago

Journalist Masha Gessen and her girlfriend have three children. Their lawyer told them to tell their oldest son, that if someone approaches him, to run. {As Russian Social Services could legally take him away.} They are moving to New York, as they have the money and papers to do so - unlike many other Gay families, who are not so lucky and must stay.

Fighters, not quitters
5 years ago

The first time I heard about legislation banning "homosexual propaganda", I thought it was funny. Quaint. I thought the last time anyone had used those words in earnest I had been a kid and my girlfriend hadn't been born yet. Whatever they meant when they enacted laws against "homosexual propaganda" in the small towns of Ryazan or Kostroma, it could not have anything to do with reality, me or the present day. This was a bit less than two years ago.

What woke me up was a friend who messaged me on Facebook: "I am worried about how this might impact you and other LGBT people with families" This was enough to get my imagination working. Whatever they meant by "homosexual propaganda", I probably did it. I had two kids and a third on the way (my girlfriend was pregnant), which would mean I probably did it in front of minors. And this, in turn, meant the laws could in fact apply to me. First, I would be hauled in for administrative offences and fined and then, inevitably, social services would get involved.

That was enough to get me to read the legislation, which by now had been passed in about 10 towns and was about to become law in St Petersburg, the second-largest city in the country. Here is what I read: homosexual propaganda was defined as "the purposeful and uncontrolled distribution of information that can harm the spiritual or physical health of a minor, including forming the erroneous impression of the social equality of traditional and non-traditional marital relations".

Russia has a lot of poorly written laws and regulations that contradict its own constitution, but this one was different. Like other contemporary laws, it was so vaguely worded that it encouraged corruption and extortion (fines for "homosexual propaganda" are backbreaking) and made selective enforcement inevitable. But it also did something that had never been done in Russian law before: it enshrined second-class citizenship for LGBT people. Think about it: it made it an offence to claim social equality.

St Petersburg passed the law in March 2012. I no longer thought it was funny. I actually choked up when I saw the news item about the bill being proposed at the federal level. My girlfriend had recently had a baby and this, among other things, meant we needed to sell our tiny cars and trade up to something that accommodated three kids and a pram. I asked her: "Are we doing this or do we just need to get out of the country?" We decided we were doing it. We are fighters, not quitters.

This post was modified from its original form on 13 Sep, 9:42
Pink Triangles in Russia
5 years ago

"Are we doing this or do we just need to get out of the country?" We decided we were doing it. We are fighters, not quitters.

So I launched the pink-triangle campaign. I went on TVRain, independent internet and satellite-based television and recorded a segment showing pictures of my family and explaining how the law would make it a crime to say my family was equal to other families. I explained the history of the pink triangle. I called on people who did not want to see fascism in Russia to put on pink triangles.

Though I have always been publicly out, I had never done what I did then - talked about my family and asked to be seen as a lesbian rather than a journalist first. It seemed to work beautifully. People wrote to me and came up to me in the street. I had had 6,000 pink triangles printed up and I got rid of most of them within a few weeks.

The public chamber, an extraparliamentary body formed by the Kremlin, scheduled a hearing on the legislation. I testified, as did a number of human rights activists I respected. The chair read out a draft resolution. I also received private assurances from highly placed officials present that the legislation would never make it to the parliament's floor.

That was a year ago. The public chamber's resolution never materialised. In January 2013, the Duma passed the bill in first reading. The protesters who came to the parliament building that day were beaten up. There had been anti-gay violence in Russia before, most notably when a group of activists had attempted to hold a gay pride celebration in Moscow, but never like this: brutal beatings in broad daylight as the police looked on - and eventually detained the protesters, not the attackers.

One of my closest friends took part in the protest at the Duma that day. The following day, he was fired from his job teaching biology at one of the city's better schools. He was eventually reinstated after a public outcry -- he was arguably the city's best-known teacher, with his own podcast and television and radio series -- but I knew one thing: if he had been a gay man rather than a heterosexual ally, he would never teach in the city again. Oh, and around the same time, Moscow City court banned gay pride celebrations for the next 100 years.

In March, the St Petersburg legislator who had become a spokesman for the law started mentioning me and my "perverted family" in his interviews. I contacted an adoption lawyer asking whether I had reason to worry that social services would go after my family and attempt to remove my oldest son, whom I adopted in 2000. The lawyer wrote back telling me to instruct my son to run if he is approached by strangers and concluding: "The answer to your question is at the airport."

In June, the "homosexual propaganda" bill became federal law. The Duma passed a ban on adoptions by same-sex couples and by single people living in countries where same-sex marriage is legal. The head of the parliamentary committee on the family pledged to create a mechanism for removing children from same-sex families.

Two things happened to me the same month: I was beaten up in front of parliament for the first time and I realised that in all my interactions, including professional ones, I no longer felt I was perceived as a journalist first: I am now a person with a pink triangle.

My family is moving to New York. We have the money and documents needed to do that with relative ease -- unlike thousands of other LGBT families and individuals in Russia. -- By Masha Gessen Guardian News and Media 2013

Image: Masha Gessen (left) and other Russian gay-rights activists protest outside the lower house of Russia's parliament, the State Duma, in Moscow. AFP

This post was modified from its original form on 13 Sep, 9:52
5 years ago

MANY CONCERNS BESIDES GAY ISSUES, BUT INCLUDING GAY ISSUES. The whole thing ABSOLUTELY REEKS OF CORRUPTION. And CORRUPTION is why the IOC, the International Olympic Committee, chose Sochi - with WARM Winter Temperatures! - for the Winter Olympics - and CORRUPTION is why the IOC REFUSES TO MOVE THE GAMES now in the face of International outcry about treatment of Gays!

These are TWO BOOKS referred to and quoted from in the New York Review of Books:
Zimnyaya Olimpiada v Subtropikakh. Nezavisimyi Ekspertnyi Doklad
[Winter Olympics in the Subtropics: An Independent Expert Report]
by Boris Nemstov and Leonid Martynyuk
Moscow, 41 pp., May 2013

Fragile Empire: How Russia Fell In and Out of Love with Vladimir Putin
by Ben Judah
Yale University Press, 379 pp., $30.00

"Winter Olympics IN THE SUBTROPICS"???
The Book Title???????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The Ice & Snow would have to be ARTIFICIAL [if not MELTING], - the poorly-built stands could fall down - NOT SAFE FOR THE ATHLETES - NOT SAFE FOR THE SPECTATORS.

Not to mention the GAY Athletes and Spectators -

Corruption, Corruption, MASSIVE CORRUPTION...

From the book:
"Russia is a winterly country. On the map, it is hard to find a spot where snow would never fall, and where winter sports would not be popular. Yet Putin has found such a spot and decided to hold the winter Olympics there: in the city of Sochi."

AMERICAN EVANGELICALS behind Eastern Europe and Russia Anti-Gay Bans
5 years ago

Without the "Crusade" of the American Evangelical Pastors, such as notorious Scott Lively, THIS LEGISLATION WOULD NEVER HAVE HAPPENED - NEVER EVEN BEEN THOUGHT OF.

Americans will be surprised to learn, that THIS CURRENT SPATE OF ANTI-GAY LEGISLATION, ORIGINATES WITH AMERICAN EVANGELICAL PASTORS. Yep, you heard that right. Unable to be successful against the tide of Gay Equality legislation here, these Right-wing Evangelical Christians took their Hatred abroad, to influence Churches and Politicians that tended towards the Conservative. [Their idea was, after successes abroad, they could return with renewed strength to their anti-Gay campaigns in the U.S.]
From Seattle Gay News:
[Anti-Gay Pastor Scott] Lively has made a career of stirring up anti-Gay sentiment in the U.S. and internationally. His organization, Abiding Truth Ministries, has been named an anti-Gay hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center.

In 2007, Lively toured 50 cities in Russia and other former Soviet countries. On this tour he helped found Watchmen on the Walls, a particularly violent anti-Gay organization now headquartered in Riga, Latvia. He is also accused of recommending that Russia institute a ban on "Gay propaganda".
In 2009 Lively was one of several American right-wing evangelical figures who attended a conference in Kampala, Uganda, at which anti-Gay strategies were discussed, including what later became the "Kill the Gays" bill.
A U.S. district judge ruled on August 15 that American pastor Scott Lively may be tried for crimes against humanity because of his global anti-Gay activities.

Read more:

5 years ago


Without the "Crusade" of the American Evangelical Pastors, such as notorious Scott Lively, THIS LEGISLATION WOULD NEVER HAVE HAPPENED - NEVER EVEN BEEN THOUGHT OF.

5 years ago



[By the way, good ol' "Family Values" Putin is GETTING A DIVORCE FROM HIS WIFE - announced to the world at the Intermission to an Opera the "couple" was attending - which is weird, for such an announcement...]

For those who need to know, LGBTQI stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transsexual, Queer {which is now officially an ok word}, and Intersex.

Not all Russians needing Asylum would have the "connections" abroad that a well-known Journalist such as Masha Gessen and her family would have.

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