E. Winter Tashlin

Another Russian Injustice: A Choice We Have to Make

Filed By E. Winter Tashlin | June 14, 2013 3:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, The Movement
Tags: discrimination laws, Elena Mizulina, LGBT adoption rights, Russian LGBT people

Reddit user /u/demichka recently posted a link to a Russian language article in which Elena Mizulina, head of the State Duma's Committee on Family, Women and Children appears to advocate for the removal of children from same-sex families, having this to say (according to google translate at least):

The proposed amendment to Article 127 of the Family Code, which provides for those who may be an adoptive parent, and who can not. In particular, consider that opportunity: to create a legal basis for the removal of a child from the family, based on the actual marriage of people of the same sex.

...If such a clause will, then the restriction of adoptions, including removal of the child from the family, when it turns out that the family created by persons of the same sex would be legally possible.

In light of the fact that the State Duma just unanimously voted in favor of an anti-LGBT bill of downright Soviet proportions, the possibility that Russian children who have been adopted by same-sex families could be ripped from their homes is terrifyingly real. And anyone who imagines the injustice would stop at adopted children are deluding themselves.

Here in the United States there's a lot of talk lately about the "end" of the struggle for gay and lesbian civil rights, although no one paying attention could say imagine we're anywhere near having true trans* equality. With so many of our social and legislative goals either achieved or within striking distance, it's heart wrenching to be reminded of just how bad things can be for our LGBT siblings in other nations.

Developments in Russia in particular though, are be terrifying and dispiriting to see. Unlike Uganda, Jamaica, or many other places where LGBT people are stigmatized, legislated against, and even killed for their sexual orientation or gender identity/presentation, things in Russia were surprisingly decent for LGBT people only a few short years ago.

It's not immediately clear what we in the U.S. can do to fight the oppression of our siblings overseas, and in truth I know many LGBT people who don't feel that it's any of their business. Too many of us, complacent and comfortable with our marriages, workplace protections, and white picket fences, take a post-LGBT view of these matters.

To paraphrase a common sentiment I hear

What's happening in Nation-X is unfortunate, but just because I'm gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender/etc and so are they, it doesn't mean we have a connection or that I have an obligation to them.

What this comes down to is a question as old as the LGBT civil rights movement: are we a community or do we simply share a particular trait?

If we are nothing more to than people with a shared trait, like people who are left-handed, then I suppose we could be seen as free of any moral obligation (beyond that of shared humanity) to advocate for oppressed LGBT people in other nations.

If, on the other hand, we are a community, we have to stand for more than just watching the Tony Awards or marching in a Pride celebration once in a while.

I believe that we can be a community, united across cultural and national lines by a shared experience not only of oppression, but of life. But in order to do so, we first have to make the choice to care. We owe that to ourselves and our future.

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