Russian gay teen sprung from rehab after activist ‘siege’

Family tried to exorcize gay teenager in Moscow after he came out to them on his 16th birthday

Russian gay teen sprung from rehab after activist ‘siege’
25 April 2012

A gay teenager in Russia who was put into a drug rehab center after coming out to his father has been released following a 'seige' by activists.

Ivan Kharchenko spent 12 days in Moscow's Marshak facility for alleged drug abuse and alcoholism, but was last night sprung from the clinic by campaigners including activist Dmitry Aleshkovsky, who tweeted that his supporters staged an improvised seige.

According to Novaya Gazeta, Ivan's family were devastated after he came out to them earlier this year on his 16th birthday.

So much so that his grandmother sent him to a 'witch' to be exorcized.

His father then admitted Ivan to the rehabilitation center, allegedly against his will, where he was drugged so much he forgot his friends' names, Novaya Gazeta reported.

Campaigners have condemned his father's actions, accusing him of kidnapping.

An investigation will be launched into Ivan's hospitalization after lawyer Violetta Volkova told Ekho Moskvy radio that medics failed to confirm the allegations of drug and alcohol abuse.

LGBT rights have become a hot topic in Russia, after last month saw a national anti-gay bill, similar to the one passed in St Petersburg, submitted to the Russian parliament by lawmakers from the Novosibirsk region.

The proposed law calls for fines of up to 500,000 rubles ($16,500 €12,400) for 'spreading homosexual propaganda' among minors.

If passed, it would gag gay and transgender people nationwide, potentially banning public discussion of LGBT issues or events targeted at gay and trans people.

The St Petersburg bill, passed in February 2012, makes it an offense to engage in any 'propaganda' that could give minors 'the false perception that traditional and nontraditional relationships are socially equal.'

The Russian states of Arkhangelsk, Ryazan and Kostroma have already adopted similar anti-gay laws.

However, despite a poll by the All-Russian Center for the Study of Public Opinion (VTsIOM), showing 86% of the country's population support laws prohibiting public discussion of LGBT issues, only 6% of Russians have actually seen so-called 'propaganda'.

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