A 16-year-old Russian boy forced into a drug clinic after coming out to his father has been released into his mother’s custody, it has been announced.
The teen, whose grandmother is reported to have attempted to “exorcise” the boy to rid him of his gay identity, came out to his father after his 16th birthday. His father was hostile to the news and he reportedly tricked his son into going to the rehab facility under the pretence of seeing a psychologist.
The teen’s father has been quoted by friends as saying “I’d rather have you disabled or a vegetable than gay.”
“I’d better have a son in prison or in the psychiatric ward than a gay son,” the friends also quoted.
Lawyer Violetta Volkova said Kharchenko has since been handed over to his mother.
“We drove to his grandparents at four in the morning but they wouldn’t even open the door,” she said.
“Then we decided to go to his mother’s and she turned out to be a completely normal, reasonable woman. They get on well, though he’s been living with his father for the last three years.
Volkova added that the formal reason for Kharchenko’s stint in rehab was for alleged drug abuse and alcoholism but doctors have since said tests revealed no drugs in his system.
This however comes after what appears to be an attempt to cover up the fact that at 16 the boy was not old enough to be put in such a facility, with reports suggesting that someone may have falsified documents and lied about the “treatment” he was given.
At the rehab center, Kharchenko was barred from using the telephone and given pills that he said affected his memory. A doctor at the clinic told Kharchenko’s mother that no traces of drugs were detected in his system.
The boy’s friends complained to police that only people above the age of 18 could be held at the clinic. A clinic official showed journalists a document saying that Kharchenko was 19 years old, Novaya Gazeta reported.
A police investigation has been started, though how thorough that investigation will be given Russia’s recent slide toward further institutionalizing homophobia remains in doubt.