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‘A flagrant rights violation’ State investigators in Russia reportedly plan to arrest single gay fathers on child trafficking charges

Source: Meduza
Anton Novoderzhkin / TASS / Vida Press

Member of Parliament Oksana Pushkina, the deputy head of the State Duma’s Committee on Family, Women, and Children’s Issues, has asked Russia’s Attorney General to confirm reports about the Investigative Committee allegedly planning to arrest a number of single, gay men, who became fathers through in vitro fertilization (IVF) procedures and surrogate mothers. The single fathers in question are reportedly being accused of child trafficking and state investigators are allegedly threatening to place their children in foster care for the duration of the investigation. Pushkina’s letter to Attorney General Igor Krasnov was obtained by RBK. 

These fathers are facing charges because under Russian law, only married couples and single women are allowed to act as donors during IVF, not single men — even though, according to the constitution, men and women have equal rights, Pushkina explained in the letter. She also added that although a bill designed to regulate IVF has been introduced to the State Duma Committee on Health Protection, it’s “lying motionless.” “This is unsurprising, given the influence the ROC [Russian Orthodox Church] has today,” Pushkina noted.

“The ROC is doing great work to preserve the history and traditions of Russia, but in matters of the development of biotechnology it’s better to listen to the scientific community. We have a secular state, where all decisions must be made in strict accordance with the law. I consider what is happening a flagrant violation of the rights of not only the fathers, but also the children, the eldest among them are meant to go to school next year,” she said.

Speaking to the news outlet RBC, Pushkina emphasized that she appealed to the Attorney General to prevent the children from being taken from their families. “[These] guys aren’t guilty of anything, in the current situation our duty is to protect them from lawlessness and obscurantism,” the deputy said.

The state news agency TASS first reported on the impending arrest of these single fathers yesterday afternoon, citing a source in law enforcement. The source explained that by law, these men can’t act as donors during IVF “because they’re not of a traditional sexual orientation.” The arrests are being planned within the framework of an existing child trafficking case involving children from surrogate mothers — several doctors who worked with surrogate mothers were jailed in connection with this case over the summer. 

Igor Trunov, a lawyer representing the defendants, spoke to the news agency TASS and confirmed the reports about the planned arrests. He says Russia’s Investigative Committee seized documents containing information about the men in question from reproductive technology companies implicated in a case back in 2014. The single fathers were later summoned for interrogation and warned that their children could be put into orphanages for the duration of the investigation. Trunov knows of ten fathers who the Investigative Committee is planning to charge with child trafficking and he also claims that the investigators are seeking to have the children recognized as victims in the case. Trunov stressed that he considers the intent of the investigation illegal. 

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Text by Olga Korelina 

Translation by Eilish Hart