Same-sex marriage will never be a reality in Russia, assure sociologists from Saint-Petersburg. But one should not seek the cause of this in vague hindrances of the conservative Russian society. Mrs. Tatiana Protasenko, a senior scientist of Institute of Sociology under the Russian Academy of Sciences, stated that the level of tolerance towards LGBT people among citizens of the Northern Russian Capital has showed gradual increase in recent months.
Her words are confirmed by the data obtained from the Agency of social information - 23% of its citizens replied that there were LGBT people in their entourage, 77% confessed that they got information on gay life from external sources and 82% of respondents believe that the state should punish those who call for violence towards homosexual people.
Moreover, more than half of respondents (51.2%) think that gays have the right to work in kindergartens and schools, 41.8% - refuse to admit such an opportunity for gays. The right to adopt children by same-sex couples was approved by 38% of respondents, but the number of those who do not want gays to adopt children is still bigger - 41.8%. According to the poll results, citizens of Saint-Petersburg were not sufficiently tolerant only in the last case - city dweller are not ready yet to entrust LGBT people (dad and dad, mom and mom) to mould children.
However, Polina Strongina - one of the most well-known active members of "Youth Apple" political movement Saint-Petersburg division, does not hide her bisexual behaviour, and believes that it would not be bad if homosexual couples will mould the children. "I do not think that a child being moulded in a gay family will suffer from any kind of discomfort. It could be quite the contrary - gay parents will give their children more care and love that always busy and hard-working straight couples who do not care much about their children", resumes Polina. But frankly speaking, Polina could not definitely state the exact level of her bisexuality - she stressed that she wants to have a stable relationship and fall in deep love only with a man, but with women it might be possible for her to have a sex". We hope that in the near future Polina would be a happy mother and a good wife.
Maxim Ivantsov - a human rights defender who published last year in one of the popular among the youth information sites his scandalous article "Today I am Gay!", in an interview for "Fontanka", said that he did not see the difference between heterosexual and homosexual marriages. The one thing that he regrets the most about is inequality of LGBT people and straight people in their rights. For reference: Same-sex marriage is not legal in Russia and only one person in "homosexual couple" has the right to adopt a child, the second partner would be legally "no one" for the adopted child.
"We regret that still have no good law that regulates the issue. Russian guardianship authorities do not honour single people who want to adopt a child, even women. And if that person who wants to adopt a child is a single (gay) man they would just refuse his application for adoption. And this is a gross discrimination of men rights. Our legislation is not definite and has very vague language. For example, "a potential guardian might be denied a request to adopt a child within the discretion of the appropriate guardianship authority". And it means that bureaucrats may cavil to almost anything!", lamented Valery Sozaev - the Head of the "Coming out" LGBT organization from Saint-Petersburg that unites lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders and friendly to gays heterosexuals.
The "Coming Out" LGBT organization holds a lot of events aimed at building of a family union in its fullest understanding - from seminars to define and explain for LGBT people the ways to strengthen their partnership under present not gay-friendly conditions stated by the Russian law makers to monthly events that can be attended also by the children of these people. For reference: "Coming Out" started its work as an organization after the Week against Homophobia in Saint-Petersburg in April 2008, and unites "all the people who care for their present and who are ready to work hard to change their future". A year ago on 21st of January, 2009 this LGBT organization was officially registered by the state authorities.
Valery Sozaev notes that "more than 30% of lesbians and a quarter of gays in the United States enjoy the right and happiness to be parents. But in Russia it is much worse - we still have big problems with the state bureaucrats, doctors, teachers. When one of the partners gets hospitalized, the second one can't represent the child's interests and in case of his (her) partner's death would be totally deprived of any right on the child". "Dura lex sed lex (Bad law but it is law) and it is infinite", replied scientist Tatiana Protasenko, referring to a family scandal between Kristina Orbakaite and her ex-husband and father of her son - Chechen Ruslan Baysarov.
The head of "Coming Out" gave an example of hatred and intolerance toward gay people from their entourage: A school psychologist blamed the sexual orientation of a child's parents for his problems that were typical for school children of that age (poor progress in studies, absent-mindedness), saying that "What shall we expect from a child whose parents are homosexuals?!".
The Russian Gay community still has a lot of opponents and even enemies. For example, Natalia Labuzova, a student, is sure that "the growing number of homosexuals leads to a murder of love sources in its basis", id est children. Sociologist Protasenko agrees with it. She thinks that "same-sex marriage is an aberration of the norm because children who are being grown up in homosexual families might not have children of their own just because it would be abnormal for them. In these cases children are being born not in love and not from the act of a man and a woman".
Valery Sozaev does not agree with these statements and appeals to the researches of Western scientists who have proved the fact that children being grown in same-sex families become more tolerant and amicable, adapted for the life in the society. But, frankly, Mr. Sozaev refused to give the name of this data source. "Those children (grown up in same-sex families) are more desired and beloved than in ordinary (straight) families because pregnancy is very well prepared and guided, accident-pregnancy is zero possibility. Gay parents care for their child (children) with 200% responsibility. Saying about probable discrimination of the child from his (her) entourage in kindergartens and schools, one should remember that in our country any person can fell victim of any kind of discrimination, from his (her) nationality to material wealth"... Tatiana Protasenko here again disagrees with the head of "Coming Out", saying that "our social environment without any doubt forms our personality. Children of gay parents will understand that they are different from other children...".
By the way, said Sozaev, gay people themselves have personal and communication problems with their parents and relatives who refuse to admit their unique personality. Kristina, a student from Saint-Petersburg State University, told to the "Fontanka" correspondent that for a long time she had tried to "fix" herself and be the same as other people. When she was 18 years old, she fell in love with a woman who was significantly older than she. "I've lost my appetite, had nightmares and sleepless nights and totally refused to perceive everything that was going amidst her", - she remembers. "Once, during family lunch my father started to talk about the bad influence of homosexual people, being totally unaware of my sexual orientation, and I was forced to let the cat out of the bag in order to defend gay people and me, as part of them". Parents forced her to quit her family and relations with her parents are still severed.
Nevertheless Petersburg has a famous place that shows citizens' loyalty to gay people - this is a park in the heart of the city with the fountain and Catherine the Great sculpture (Kat'kin Sad - Catherine's garden). "In the time of my youth everyone knew it, retelling to each other gay-themed anecdotes, calling not to go to that place, and at the same time we were absolutely indifferent to gays", remembers Mrs. Protasenko. According to her opinion, the Russian society is considerably indifferent to LGBT people because there are still many other issues to solve and big problems to overcome. Simply speaking, common people just do not care...".
"Fontanka"'s correspondent had to receive the evidence that it was true. A month ago I with my friends went to the cinema to enjoy the play of Sean Penn in a landmark movie "Harvey Milk" and was taken totally aback that there were only nine other people who had come to watch that movie in the week-end's prime-time! Having told about this to Tatiana Protasenko I found out that despite her criticism of homosexuality she was a fan of the famous "Brokeback Mountain" and called for tolerance towards the values cherished by the two gay cowboys. "Brokeback Mountain has the mood of Weltschmerz".
Since January 1st, 2010 same-sex marriage is legalized in New-Hampshire (USA) and the Law of Austria on civil unions came into force. Iceland also has intentions to update its matrimonial legal system not to mention specifically the sex of persons willing to marry each other. The decision of Iceland's government is not a surprise because Iceland's newly elected Prime-minister is Yohanna Sigurdardottir has already made her coming out in public.
Same-sex marriage is legalized in:
the Netherlands (since April 1, 2001), Belgium (June 1, 2003), Spain (July 3, 2005), Canada (July 20, 2005), South African Republic (November 30, 2006), Norway (January 1, 2009), Sweden (May 1, 2009) and several US states: Massachusetts (May 17, 2004), California (June 16, 2008 (suspended since November 5, 2008), Connecticut (November 12, 2008), Iowa (April 27, 2009), Vermont (September 1, 2009), New-Hampshire (January 1, 2010).
More legally circumvented "same-sex partnerships (civil unions)" are legal in many countries of Western and Northern Europe (the UK, Denmark, Greenland, Iceland, France, Andorra, Germany, Finland, Luxembourg, Portugal, the Czech Republic, Slovenia, Hungary, Switzerland, Croatia), in the State of Israel, New Zealand and in some Australian states. Some countries (Colombia, Uruguay), provinces and municipalities (Brazil, Argentina, Mexico) of Latin America also have legalized some forms of same-sex unions.
In near future some more European countries will legalize same-sex marriage. For example, the ruling Socialist party of Portugal has that issue on its agenda. In July 2009 the government of Slovenia declared that same-sex unions must be equal to "straight" unions. The new Luxembourg's Cabinet also wants to legalize same-sex marriage in its principality.
The first ever gay couple legalized its same-sex relationship was from Denmark - Axel and Agile Axgil.