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Russian lawmakers pass ban on adoption tied to gay foreign couples

June 18, 2013|By Sergei L. Loiko
  • Police officers detain gay rights activists as they gathered near Russia's lower parliament chamber last week to protest a bill to ban teaching children about homosexuality.
Police officers detain gay rights activists as they gathered near Russia's… (Ivan Sekretarev / Associated…)

MOSCOW -- The lower house of Russia's parliament gave initial approval Tuesday to ban the adoption of Russian orphans by foreign same-sex married couples or by single persons from countries where same-sex marriages are allowed.

Some lawmakers said the measure was intended as a response to a French law passed last month allowing same-sex marriage.

The latest measure would not currently apply to Americans because they are already banned from adopting Russians. Lawmakers took that step in December in response to passage by the U.S. Congress of a law denying visas and imposing financial sanctions on Russian officials involved in the case of attorney Sergei Magnitsky, who died in prison in 2011 after shedding light on a multimillion-dollar scam.

“A child must have a mom and dad because the child gets reared and educated about the world in a family,” Sergei Zheleznyak, a deputy speaker of the lower house, or State Duma, said in a speech Tuesday promoting the measure. “If a child ends up brought up by a gay couple, the child of course is seriously traumatized and develops a distorted notion of the surrounding reality.”

Last week lawmakers in the Duma overwhelmingly passed a measure and sent it on to the upper house that would ban teaching children about homosexuality.

The Russian parliament continues to surprise the world with its “Dark Ages attitude toward modern life,” said Lyudmila Alexeyeva, head of Moscow Helsinki Group. 

“In a country with a multitude of problems beginning with healthcare and ending with economy, the parliament passes one homophobic law after another as if nothing worries them more than gays and lesbians,” Alexeyeva said in an interview. “I guess [President Vladimir] Putin doesn’t allow them to deal with any serious matters and they have nothing better to do than vent their frustration on Americans, gays and orphans.”

The adoption measure has to pass another reading Friday, but that step is widely seen as a foregone conclusion.

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