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?

 

“One of Us?” Not As Much…On Fatboy Slim’s Queer Behavior

“The most ironic thing is that most of what we do was invented by black, gay Americans in the first place.”

– Fatboy Slim, on EDM / House Music

Fatboy Slim: Queer…or Just European?

Norman Cook (aka Fatboy Slim) is not one to dither around or dilly-dally when it comes to sonic expansiveness and creative perception. While serving as producer, writer or DJ, Fatboy “Jack-of-All-Genres” Slim happily bounces from genre to genre to suit each new mood, project or opportunity. His range of landscapes at-play include Independent Pop, British Hip Hop and House, Big Beat and Dance music, naturally.

Born Quentin Cook, this UK underground boy gone massive came from punk rock beginnings and scruffy indie aesthetics before heading away to college in Brighton, then segueing into club and DJ culture.

Cook enjoyed a brief stint as the bassist for UK alt-pop outfit The Housemartins and experienced his first dash of fame during the band’s “Happy Hour” phase. Soon enough, Cook worked his way back to clubbing and DJ’ing, finally gaining a critical mass of attention and fans with his production and mashup skills, and eventually coming into his own with the fame and success of the hypnotic tracks “Praise You” and “The Rockafeller Skank.”

Some lads hear it more than others, but the “Is He Gay or Just European?” trope prevails in a culture where a metrosexual is a term the British media coined to describe a distinctly European look, sensibility and sexual fluidity (often but not always attached to disposable income and class). Such themes include but are not limited to: effeminate fashion, unisex/asexual presentation and (ahem) sexual experimentation or fluidity. The fact that all metrosexual men are “straight” is of course hogwash. Too–more and more, youth culture refuses to “pick a team” or define themselves by any label whatsoever.

So now, we have the news that Fatboy Slim is a regular Pride entertainer, a staunch LGBTQ advocate, and has ‘experimented with’ men sexually.

If you’d hear it from Cook himself, it’s N.B.D., but perhaps of some interest: back in 2004, Fatboy Slim told the press, “Well, everyone’s had one try-out experience, haven’t they?”

On his relationship with wife Zoe Bell, Fatboy Slim went on, “Me and Zoe have always been convinced [our son is] gay anyway.”

The fact that such goings on were mostly laughed off and minimized typifies the sexual fluidity that is our shared human experience. In less of a “bi-chic” moment and more of a “yeah, that happened” moment, Cook’s language wasn’t quite politically correct but his sentiment speaks to a nonchalance that reveals how natural and fluid sexuality is.

Is this something we can or should ignore?

Being that Fatboy Slim’s son’s still of a tender age, Cook may be keeping laser-point specifics of his son’s life private and deflecting the concept of queering personal life or relationships. However last year, Cook told Pink News UK his that supporting equal marriage is a ‘no brainer’ and revealed, “I talk about the issue with my son.”

Cook, who’s done much education and advocacy work for local young artists in his hometown, once performed at the Terrace Bar of the House of Commons to support even more community-based music initiatives for youth. By having done so, could he be, however subconsciously, helping to open the minds of UK lawmakers to queer culture, sexually fluid living and LGBTQ art and iconography?

Time will tell.

Meanwhile, are Fatboy Slim’s remarks about his own ‘sexual experimentation’ dismissive…or “normal?”

In essence, you cannot un-queer yourself, culturally or sexually. What’s definitive here is that Cook is decidedly an ally. And for the time being, the rest is none of our “B.I.-IZ-NESS.”

Have a nosh on the concept while you nod your head to Fatboy Slim’s video, “Weapon of Choice” feat. Christopher Walken.  (Yes, Hunty’s: come back and share your thoughts with us after the jump-off.)

 

 

New Studies Give Support to Same-Sex Parenting

While many see that one of the next big things for the lgbt movement to tackle will be adoption rights, they might not have to worry about dissenters commenting on same-sex parents and their ability to raise children.

Two recent studies, one in Australia and one in the U.S., point to children raised by same-sex parents not differing from, though perhaps even doing better than, children raised by opposite-sex families.

Melbourne University conducted the “Australian Study of Child Health in Same-Sex Families,” which is touted as the world’s largest study to date looking at the impact of gay and lesbian parents on their children. The study collected data on 500 children around Australia up to the age of 17, and interviewed 315 gay, lesbian, and bisexual parents by having them complete the world recognized “Child Health Questionnaire.”

Preliminary results in the study indicate no differences between children raised in same-sex and opposite-sex families in terms of physical and mental health, as well as in their social interactions among peers and adults.

A major difference though was that researchers found a higher degree of family cohesion and general health and happiness in children raised in same-sex families. A drawback to this is that children are more likely to experience discrimination because of their parents’ sexual orientation, which, lead researcher of the study, Dr. Simon Crouch, does think matters. “One of our hypotheses is that this experience of discrimination does have an impact on child health and well-being.”

However, as Dr. Crouch points out, this may be the reason why family cohesion was greater in families of gay and lesbian parents: “Because of the situation that same-sex families find themselves in, they are more willing to communicate and approach the issues that any child may face at school, like teasing or bullying. This fosters openness and means children tend to be more resilient. That would be our hypothesis.”

The other study, published in the July/August edition of Child Development, studied 104 families all across the United States: 50 headed by heterosexual couples, 25 by lesbian parents, and 29 by gay male partners. The children were all adopted at birth or within the first few weeks of life, and at the time of the study all were around three years old.

Researchers Dr. Rachel H. Farr, University of Massachusetts Amherst, and Dr. Charlotte J. Patterson, University of Virginia, found that ultimately, regardless of the gender of the parents, the children with positive child behavior lived with parents who had supportive co-parenting interactions, including greater pleasure, engagement, and communication between parents. The children with behavioral problems lived in homes with competition between the parents and dissatisfaction with divisions in child care. Dr. Farr and Dr. Patterson commented, “it was the parents who were the most satisfied with their arrangements with each other who had children with fewer behavior problems, such as acting out or showing aggressive behavior.”

The researchers noticed that gay and lesbian parents were more likely to share equally in childcare tasks, while heterosexual parents would specialize in their chores. Even with this division, researchers concluded that it didn’t matter: “It appears that while children are not affected by how parents divide childcare tasks, it definitely does matter how harmonious the parents’ relationships are with each other.”

While the number is unclear, there are reported millions of children living with same-sex parents. With these two important studies, it gives great support to advocates of same-sex parents, showing that it really is the love of the parents and a supportive atmosphere that raises the best and most well-adjusted children.