Russia is once again threatening to hurt its own orphans by touting a ban on UK and French adoptions if plans to legalize same-sex marriage go ahead.
“The British and French parliaments have legalized same-sex marriages,” Konstantin Dolgov, the Russian Foreign Ministry’s Human Rights Envoy, is reported to have (incorrectly) said. “This narrows the chances of citizens of these countries adopting Russian children.”
This comes after MPs voting for England, Northern Ireland and Wales voted on Tuesday to advance at its second reading, but not yet pass, a Conservative-backed marriage equality bill. The vote came in at a considerable 400-175 in favor.
In December, Russian lawmakers voted by an overwhelming majority to ban the United States from adopting children from within its borders as retaliation for the U.S. implementing travel restrictions over the death of Sergei Leonidovich Magnitsky, a Russian attorney and auditor who dared to expose evidence of widespread corruption among the Russian establishment.
Russian lawmakers attempted to clothe their obvious retaliation by suggesting that Americans were routinely adopting and then harming Russian children, citing a small number of isolated cases to supposedly prove their point.
Now it appears Russian authorities are promulgating that domestic laws and, apparently with unabashed seriousness, the UN Convention on Human Rights prevents Russia from allowing gay parents to adopt.
Pavel Astakhov, Russia’s children’s rights ombudsman, said in a newspaper interview on Tuesday that adoption by foreign gay couples would be against the constitution.
“This position [on gay marriages] is stated in our basic laws, the Family Code and the constitution,” he said. “They put it straight that marriage is a union of a man and a woman. We do not have anything else. Full stop.” Mr Astakhov added: “The UN Convention says a child has a right to a mother and a father. And we can’t change this model.”
Russia’s anti-gay leanings are no secret. The Russian Duma recently advanced legislation that would create a national “homosexuality propaganda” ban, legislation so vague that it smacks of being used to abridge any and every freedom that can remotely be passed off as promoting gay rights in the public sphere.
That the Russian authorities have the audacity to cite the UN Convention without blushing over Russia’s absolute failure to uphold key articles, like freedom of assembly, demonstrates a callous disregard for the letter and spirit of the document in question; that they are attempting to use their own orphans as pawns in their political machinations is appalling.
Russia’s ridiculous efforts to re-criminalize homosexuality haven’t gone unnoticed though, with both German and EU foreign ministers having condemned Russia for its advancing the propaganda ban.
Catherine Ashton, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs, went so far as to release a statement, saying:
“The implementation of this law could reinforce discrimination against LGBT people as well as all those who support them and their choices, in particular by limiting their freedom of expression and their freedom of association and assembly. The High Representative calls on the Russian Federation to uphold its national and international commitments – in particular in the framework of the Council of Europe as a signatory to the European Convention on Human Rights – to protect the enjoyment of these rights by all individuals.”
Whether we can expect formal legislative action on a gay adoption ban remains unclear given that Russia’s children’s ombudsman clearly feels there is already a legislative mandate, but it does not seem out of the question. Moreover, the issue could be who else will Russia threaten to ban adopting from within its country, and for what reasons?
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