Taking Children From Their Homes: Russia Introduces Bill To Remove Gay Parenting Rights

“Waves of protests surrounded Vladimir Putin’s return to power as Russia’s President in March 2012. Since then, parliament has passed so many new laws restricting civil liberties that some people now call it the ‘mad printer.'”

– Amnesty International Wire (Amnesty.org)

Russia’s Civil Liberties Record: Getting Worse and Worse In Word & Deed

“Everything you add to the truth subtracts from the truth.”

                                                                          – Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

According to the Associated Press, Russian State Duma Deputy Zhuravlev (Putin’s United Russia Party/parliamentary caucus) is introducing a law making “nontraditional sexual orientation” viable grounds to remove child custody for LGBTQ parents.

In the draft bill for this proposed new law, Zhuravlev wrote:

“Following the letter of the law that forbids propaganda of non-traditional sex to minors we must restrict such propaganda not only in mass media but also the family… if one of the child’s parents indulges in sexual contact with persons of the same sex, the damage to the child’s psyche is immense as a mother or father serves as an example for their offspring.”

Additional grounds for denial or revocation of parental custody include alcoholism, drug abuse or any amount or type of drug use deemed inappropriate, which has nothing at all to do with gender, sexual orientation or law-abiding families established in-place, having committed none of these substance-related offenses.

Here we see yet another instance of punishing allies in addition to homosexual persons, as once passed, this bill would affect families and children who aren’t even LGBTQ-identified. Custodial rights could then be revoked if both or either parent were gay (out or not), so if two parents happen to have an understanding in their relationship, share post-divorce custody, etcetera, the parent who happens to be gay can be penalized, or a child can be taken away from one or both parents for any so-called ‘homosexual-affiliated’ reason(s).

As it is already illegal to mention homosexuality around children or to advise or counsel LGBTQ or questioning youth. This recent unfortunate move is thought to be the next step in Russia’s plans to eradicate gay tolerance, inclusiveness or protections altogether for LGBTQ persons, friends, allies or families.

At this point, though the bill is to be debated before it is formally passed, it seems such motions are little more than a formality. Russian lawmakers keep clinging to the through line that their anti-gay motions and laws are being instituted to protect the children, rather than being anti-gay.

Putin has already banned LGBTQ people residing in other countries from adopting Russian children, and as of this writing, the Russian government is also considering reinstating a gay blood donor ban.

Though boycotts and protests are occurring worldwide, even Olympic Committee President Jacques Rogge is throwing his hands up in the air, saying Russia will not change their minds or policies in terms of its anti-gay legislation, and Rogge’s sharing little more on the matter.

Rogge told the press, “…one should not forget that we are staging the games in a sovereign state, and the IOC cannot be expected to have an influence on the sovereign affairs of a country.”

Activists, lawmakers, PR representatives, athletes, spokespeople and officials can make all the claims they want leading up to the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics, but we won’t know who’ll be arrested or how LGBT people or allies will be treated (both on arrival, during the events and while attempting to leave Russia) until it’s too late.

Many LGBTQ folks (like Johnny Weir) are Russophiles and/or have Russian spouses or partners. Have you been to Russia? Did you love it? If so, how do you feel now that Russian policymakers are passing all of these awful anti-LGBT laws?


A Tree Grows in Arizona

Cheaper by the Dozen?  The Brady Brunch and Jolie-Pitt  families are small compared to same-sex couple Steven and Roger Ham’s brood in Arizona. Two men can’t be married or adopt kids together in Arizona, but the Hams managed to adopt a dozen, against many odds, for which they were spotlighted on national television.

The Ham Family

Who Are These Saints?

For ten years, Steven Ham, 44, Director of Customer Service and Events at Activator Methods, and Roger Ham, 48, school bus driver, have taken in 42 foster kids. Then, they started adopting. The first boy was adopted in 2003.

Legally, he belonged to Steven because Arizona doesn’t allow for a same-sex partner to adopt a partner’s children. In 2007, Roger legally changed his name to Ham. With only one legal parent, children in gay households are not entitled to health and social security benefits, inheritance rights or child support from the other parent. (If a gay couple splits up, only the legal parent has custody rights.)

Arizona’s Statistics on Adoption

However, Arizona ranks first in country for timeliness of adoptions from foster care: 47% of children getting adopted within 2 years, as opposed to 36% in rest of country. Typically, a third of 2,100 kids on average in the state foster care who have a case plan for adoption would be adopted by single parents in Arizona. Heterosexual couples get preference.

The Ham children, ages infant to 15 ½, were adopted in Arizona. Two of the children are from Washington which has legal same-sex marriage. Shelly Kreb, a lawyer who helped the couple adopt in Washington, offered to facilitate re-adoption of the 10 other kids for the price of one – $1,500. On July 13, Judge Diane Woolard called to inform them that from now on both Steven’s and Roger’s names would appear on birth certificates.

Rewarded in more ways than One

Besides having a warm, healthy family that runs smoothly with the kid-assigned chores, the Hams received an award from Arizona Association for Foster and Adoptive Parents, signed by Arizona Governor Jan Brewer in 2009. This award was given” for not only providing a secure, loving, and stable home for their kids, but for working so had to keep siblings together in a system that often forces them apart.”