The news out of Russia for the last couple of months has been shocking, chilling, enraging: Russian President Vladimir Putin has been waging all-out war against the LGBT community, both in his home country and abroad.
In early July, Putin passed legislation that bans the adoption of Russian children by same-sex couples anywhere in the world. It also prohibits any couple, gay or straight, from adopting from Russia if they happen to live in a country where same-sex marriage is legal.
That immediately drops 15 countries off the list of potential homes for Russia’s hundreds of thousands of orphans.
All American citizens were already banned from adopting Russian children as a result of legislation passed in December 2012, bringing the total number of banned countries to 16.
These are the countries whose citizens can no longer adopt Russian children
- New Zealand
- South Africa
- United States
Another eight countries have same-sex marriage laws pending or proposed, which could bring the total number of countries off-limits to Russian adoptions to 24.
Who’s left, you ask? Putin doesn’t care. He’s gone on record saying Russian orphans should be adopted by Russian parents. But there are far more orphans than couples looking to adopt.
Official counts put the number of orphans in the country around 650,000 though UNICEF reports 740,000 and some unconfirmed sources say the number could be even higher. The number of Russians waiting to adopt? Just 18,000.
Putin’s offensive goes farther still
Harvey Fierstein writes in the New York Times of another law rumored to be coming, one that would give Russian authorities the right to seize children, both biological and adopted, if the parents are gay or suspected of being gay. I’ll say that it again because it’s so unbelievable: Russian parents even suspected of being gay may soon run the risk of having their children taken away from them.
Other anti-gay legislation recently passed by Putin and his government:
- A law that allows Russian police to arrest or detain tourists they believe are gay or “pro-gay“. With Russia set to host the 2014 Winter Olympics in February, this suddenly makes it very dangerous for any LGBT Olympic athlete, trainer, reporter, family member or fan to attend the Games.
- A law banning the distribution of gay “propaganda” to minors. The Huffington Post points out this means “LGBT organisations, meetings, festivals, marches, posters, newspapers, books, films, counselling and safer sex education are likely to face criminal prosecution.” This week, four Dutch tourists became the first foreign nationals to be arrested under the propaganda law.
Human rights activist Peter Tatchell says Putin’s action are “symptomatic of [his] increasing authoritarianism and his wider crackdown on civil society. His autocratic Czarist pretentions and methods have become more evident with every passing year in office.” Fierstein likens Putin’s governance to the early years of the Nazi regime. Neither is being melodramatic.