Russia issues ‘gay family’ warning to parents of UK summer school kids

Russian activists claim London embassy's warning about risk of children staying with gay families is 'official homophobia in action'

Russia issues ‘gay family’ warning to parents of UK summer school kids
18 July 2012

Russia’s embassy in London has issued a warning to parents about the risk of their children staying with ‘gay families’ during their placement at UK summer schools.

After receiving complaints from Russian citizens, the embassy in the British capital released a statement on its website claiming that some children who were studying in the country had experienced ‘inappropriate housing conditions’ and ‘maltreatment’, including being denied food, while staying with host families.

It then warns that children have also been placed in ‘families of homosexuals’.

However, the embassy assures parents that the consular office can intervene to help move children to other families to ‘ensure normal living conditions for minors’.

Gay rights activist Nikolai Baev slammed the embassy’s warning as proof of the Russian Foreign Ministry’s ‘official homophobia in action’.

Yury Gavrikov, head of campaign group Ravnopravie, also blasted the Russian embassy claiming their statement is motivated by fear.

‘Russian officials and homophobes are afraid of this topic because they know if they play with the fear of society it will be easy to manipulate their opinions,’ he told Gay Star News.

‘If they talk about families and children they will attract attention and show they feel they same things as the people.

He added: ‘If LGBT people are kept hidden then there will be no problems and there is no need for actions to solve it. It’s easier to hide behind the fear in society.’

Andy Wasley, from UK-based gay equality group Stonewall, said Russia’s government routinely persecutes its 8.5 million gay people.

‘So, if true, the embassy’s “warning” about families with same-sex parents here in Britain is unsurprising,’ he said.

‘Unfortunately it means many Russian young people might be denied an opportunity to see life in a country which truly respects difference and where young people from all kinds of backgrounds are protected from discrimination.’

The Russian embassy in London told GSN that it had issued the warning because it was ‘deemed a problem by some of the families of the kids’ and had to react to complaints in order to ensure ‘misunderstandings do not happen again’.

In March, an anti-gay ‘propaganda’ bill was submitted to the Russian parliament, calling for fines of up to 500,000 rubles ($16,500 €12,400) for ‘spreading homosexual propaganda’ among minors.

It followed similar legislation adopted in St Petersburg, banning ‘propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality and transgenderness among minors’ in the city.

Two months later, LGBT rights activist Nikolai Alekseyev was given a fine for such alleged ‘propaganda’, simply for holding up a banner quoting a famous Soviet actress who said ‘homosexuality is not a perversity, perverse is hockey on grass and ballet on ice’.

Since the adoption of the law, thousands of people all around the world, urging them to stop human rights abuses against LGBT people and to let the St Petersburg pride go ahead unhindered.

Last month, the Committee of Ministers of the Council of Europe called on Russia to explain how the country intended to uphold its obligations under human rights law after the adoption of similar ‘homosexuality propaganda’ laws in several regions of the country.

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