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12 May, 2009 14:01

Russian lesbian couple's attempt at marriage fails

A Russian lesbian couple has been denied registration of marriage in Moscow. They tried to challenge for the first time the country’s law which does not permit unions of this kind.

Irina Shipiko and Irina Fet booked an appointment for Tuesday, paid the fee and arrived at a Moscow Register Office. However the authorities refused to tie the knot for them, saying the Russian family code did not allow people of the same sex to be married.

Admittedly, they didn’t expect a positive outcome, but rather wanted to draw public attention to same-sex couples being denied legal protection unlike heterosexual couples.

“We have been together for a long time. We are not different from any other couple who want to get married officially. Why can’t we do that?” Irina Shipiko, one of the partners, told RT.

“If we register our relations abroad, we will demand that this marriage is recognized in Russia,” Irina Fet, the other partner, added.

The idea of registering their relationship abroad has already passed the couple’s minds. They have even planned a trip to Canada to finalize their civil partnership.

Apart from Norway, Canada is the only country where gay couples do not need residency to get married. The move is to help the two Irinas make their relationship officially recognised in Russia.

“The Russian family code is clear about this. A marriage abroad can be recognised in Russia, even if it’s a same-sex marriage,” said Nikolay Alekseev, Russian gay rights activist.

The two women’s step is rather unexpected in Russia where homosexuals are still relatively unintegrated into society. Although there is a gay community in Moscow, it is still very much considered taboo and veiled in secrecy.

Gay rights activists say that it will take time not only to legalize same sex marriages in Russia, but also to make them socially acceptable in the country.

Meanwhile, even gay parades in Russia are linked with social and political unrest. Three years ago different organizations broke up the first gay march in Moscow.

Another parade is planned for the duration of the Eurovision Song Contest, but city authorities still insist that Moscow is not a place for gay pride marches.