Activist countries

Russia bans adoption by foreigners from ‘enemy countries’

On August 1, a bill was tabled

A bill has been introduced in Russia’s State Duma that prohibits citizens of “enemy countries” from adopting Russians, Reuters reported.

The list of enemy states of Russia has grown after many countries imposed sanctions on Russia following its invasion of Ukraine in February. This list currently includes the US, UK, entire EU, South Korea, and Japan.

In early April 2022, a series of constitutional amendments signed by President Vladimir Putin intensified Russia’s years-long crackdown on LGBTQ+ rights. The far-reaching amendments formally ban same-sex marriages and ban transgender people from adopting children. Marriage equality has long been considered illegal in Russia, where LGBTQ+ people are often persecuted by government authorities, but as local activists have told Washington Bladethe definition of a family unit as “exclusively…the union of one man and one woman” was absent from the country’s constitution until this week.

Other amendments Putin signed include new presidential term limits allowing him to stay in power until 2036 and giving him complete immunity from prosecution for the rest of his life, as reported by The Associated Press. The president also endorsed language specifying “a belief in God” as central to Russian values, as well as vaguely worded restrictions on “negative foreign interference in the educational process.”

This latest measure has proven highly controversial, with more than 1,000 leading Russian artists, scholars and cultural figures warning that it risks impacting virtually “any public activity” in which “knowledge and expertise are disseminated” in an open letter from March.

The amendments were approved in a constitutional referendum in June 2020, in which they were supported by an overwhelming 78% majority of Russian voters. Language prohibiting same-sex unions was central to the effort, with a TV ad showing a young orphan adopted by a gay couple, one of whom wears makeup and girlish clothes. At the end of the 90-second commercial, the orphanage workers watch in horror as the men give their new son a dress as they get him into their car.

The targeting of queer and trans people follows an ongoing campaign to scapegoat vulnerable minorities in Russia. In 2013, Putin signed a law banning the dissemination of pro-LGBTQ+ ‘propaganda’ to minors under the age of 18 – which, in practice, has been used to target everything from pride parades to carrying a phone case pink for iPhone to school.

In the eight years since the law was passed, hate crimes targeting people because of their perceived sexual orientation or gender identity have doubled. The semi-independent Russian territory of Chechnya recently celebrated the fourth anniversary of its infamous “gay purge”, in which people suspected of being LGBTQ+ are arrested, beaten, tortured and sometimes killed. It is estimated that more than 200 people were detained and at least three died.

Putin, who oversees the Muslim-majority region, has yet to speak about the ongoing anti-LGBTQ+ campaign. Russia’s leaders, meanwhile, have dismissed reports of violence, with a Kremlin spokesman telling reporters in 2017 that there was no “reliable information about problems in this area”.

Russian Commissioner for Human Rights Tatyana Moskalkova further claimed that the reports were fabricated by people who “planned to take advantage of this”, calling the allegations of human rights violations “a provocation”. “.

Despite sanctions against Chechen leaders in the United States and the European Union, Putin has defended his country’s record on LGBTQ+ rights. After singer Elton John criticized Russian censorship of gay scenes in 2019 biopic RocketmanPutin claimed that the singer’s characterization that he is hostile to “policies that embrace multicultural and sexual diversity” is a “mistake”.

“We [in Russia] have a very neutral attitude towards members of the LGBT community,” the president said at the time.

Photo: Adam Berry/Getty Images