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28 Mar, 2013 09:53

Putin orders ban on adoptions by foreign same-sex couples – report

Putin orders ban on adoptions by foreign same-sex couples – report

President Putin is against the adoption of Russian orphans by foreign same-sex couples, Russian media reveal. The government and the Supreme Court have reportedly been requested to come up with amendments to the law by July 1.

Most likely the order will be fulfilled by the Ministry of Education and Science, which deals with issues concerning orphans and adoptions, according to Izvestia daily. But the ministry says it has not yet received instructions on the matter. 

Tensions over the issue arose in mid-February, after the French National Assembly approved a sweeping bill to legalize gay marriage and allow same-sex couples to adopt children.

Soon after that children’s rights ombudsman Pavel Astakhov vowed he would do everything possible to ensure that Russian orphans are only adopted by traditional, heterosexual families.

In February, the Russian Foreign Ministry reported that it planned to verify the possible “psychological damage” inflicted on Russian orphan Yegor Shabatalov.The boy was adopted by an American woman, who lived in a same-sex marriage with another US citizen. However, she concealed her relationship from Russian authorities when she filed the adoption request.

Two years after adopting the boy, the couple split and started a legal dispute over parental rights. Such a relationship is “rather questionable from the point of view of morality” and the child got drawn into this row, observed Russian Foreign Ministry's Commissioner for Human Rights Konstantin Dolgov.

Some Russians however say that banning adoptions by same-sex couples is a half measure.  The head of the ‘All-Russian Parents’ Assembly’ movement, Nadezhda Khramova, says a total ban of foreign adoptions would be a smarter move, as “it is technically difficult to verify the adoptive parents’ sexual orientation and their legal status can be a marriage of convenience”.

Meanwhile, Nikolay Alekseyev – Russian Gay rights activist, the leader of the LGBT community – doubts Putin’s idea will have any serious consequences.

It’s purely a political move aimed to show that the government is consistent in its decisions,” he told Izvestia.

Participants attend the rally against the law that bans the adoption of Russian children by U.S. citizens.(RIA Novosti / Alexander Vilf)

Adoption issues have been in the spotlight for several months, following the government’s decision to ban US citizens from adopting Russian children under the so-called ‘Dima Yakovlev’ law, which came into force in January. 

The controversial document split Russian society, as opponents claim that it cut of many orphans from the prospect of a better life – especially those with health problems. Critics said the government was using society’s most disadvantaged children as political pawns as the prohibition on adoption was introduced as a response to the US Magnitsky Act, which banned some Russian officials from travelling to America.

Two separate rallies were staged in Moscow by supporters and opponents of the law.

The main sponsor of the Dima Yakovlev law, MP Yekaterina Lakhova, earlier drew public attention to French adoptions, claiming that only traditional families can offer their children a proper upbringing.

A child should have a mother and a father, rather than two mothers or two fathers,” she inveighed.

However, she said, the introduction of new regulations would take a while and no one should expect the ban to immediately come into effect.

The Russian Family Code does not allow same-sex marriage, making adoption by same sex-couples impossible. Adoption by unmarried individuals is technically possible; authorities do not require future parents to present proof of their sexual orientation.

Participants in the march in defense of children on Moscow's Arbat Square.(RIA Novosti / Ramil Sitdikov)