A Russian lawmaker has introduced a bill that would allow the state to remove children from homes headed by LGBT parents. According to the Associated Press, the draft bill was published on the Russian parliament’s website Thursday morning and proposed to make the “fact of nontraditional sexual orientation” grounds for removing or denying parental custody rights.
The bill, if passed, would add sexual orientation to a list of disqualifying factors that includes alcoholism, drug addiction and a history of child abuse. Bill author Alexei Zhuravlev said that the law would be a natural extension of a law passed earlier this year that bans so-called “homosexual propaganda,” i.e., any expression of sexuality or affection that deviates from the supposedly “traditional” heterosexual norm.
If “propaganda” is to be banished in the public sphere, said Zhuravlev, it should be banned “also in the family.”
Lesbian mother Masha Gessen wrote in the Guardian that she and her partner are fleeing Russia to live in New York City rather than continuing to endure the vicious wave of anti-LGBT persecution that has followed in the wake of the new law.
“Russia has a lot of poorly written laws and regulations that contradict its own constitution, but this one was different,” said Gessen. “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 offense to claim social equality.”