Last week the media reported that a Russian lawmaker has proposed a bill that would deny gay parents custody over their children. The draft bill would make the “fact of nontraditional sexual orientation” a basis for denying custody (other grounds include alcoholism, drug use, and abuse). The proposal comes in the wake of a bill banning homosexual “propaganda” among minors. A deputy of the State Duma Alexei Zhuravlev, the author of the bill, said that homosexual “propaganda” had to be banned not only in the public space “but also in the family.”
Here is an interview of the deputy Alexei Zhuravlev, published in the Russian magazine “Slon” (translated from Russian)
Alexei Zhuravlev: “A homosexual should not raise a child”
Olga Pavlikova of slon.ru interviews Mr. Alexei Zhuravlev
Alexei Zhuravlev, deputy in the State Duma [lower house of the Russian Parliament], member of the “United Russia” group and leader of the “Rodina” [“Motherland”] party has submitted to the lower house of parliament a bill which will make non-traditional sexual orientation grounds for deprivation of parental rights.
In particular, he is proposing an amendment to Article 69 of the Family Code in the form of an added paragraph according to which the grounds for deprivation of parental rights would be [among others] the fact that one or both parents are of non-traditional sexual orientation. He estimates that about 5 to 7 per cent of the population belong to a non-traditional sexual orientation and that at least a third of them have children.
Slon interviewed the author of this controversial bill about how the deputy proposes to identify homosexuals, and where he proposes to send their children.
Alexei Aleksandrovich, you are a member of the Russian Parliament Defence Committee. Why did you decide to amend the Family Code, in particular with regard to homosexual couples?
The fact is that I am first of all a deputy in the Russian Parliament. During the parliamentary recess I have been visiting many regions, from Vladivostok to my home city of Voronezh, and it was then that the problem arose.
It arose for you personally?
No, people turned to me because they did not know what to do. A woman was divorcing her husband because he professed a non-traditional orientation. But he was a man with a great deal of influence, and the court awarded custody of the children to him, because at present the Family Code contains no restriction of that kind. It occurred to me that since we have a law explicitly prohibiting the promotion of homosexuality among minors, the Family Code should be amended in such a way that that if a husband or a wife professes a non-traditional sexual orientation, they should be deprived of their parental rights. The purpose of this would be to restrict the influence of such a person on his or her own children.
But how, in your opinion, is it possible to prove that a person is homosexual?
If the person conceals their orientation and nobody knows about it, then of course it would be difficult to prove. The law will only function if information about the sexual orientation of the parent enters the public domain. And that’s fine. If a person conceals his orientation and hangs around in cellars, then those are his problems, he should remain alone with that sin. It has little effect on society.
Effectively, then, the law will be aimed against those who publicly defend the interests of homosexuals?
Excuse me but these people are about five per cent of the population, or five hundred thousand in Moscow. Give them a chance and they will all come out with placards. But you have to understand there we are not going to hunt for these people. We will not authorize the police with the task of bringing them to light. We simply aim to position the law so that it is on the side of the child, because children should not be exposed to propaganda by parents profess it. And as for identifying such people, we have schools in which children study, there are various groups and clubs, so sooner or later it will become obvious anyway.
In what way? You will be introducing into schools special questionnaires asking who do your parents meet in the evenings?
What do you mean, questionnaires? I don’t think anyone will be going round asking questions. We’re talking about clear signs of such an influence. If there are clear signs then the appropriate decision will be made. If a person conceals their identity, then they have has no influence on anybody, but if a person goes out with a placard and talks openly about their sexual orientation and propagandises it, then obviously that must be restricted.
What are the telltale signs?
The clear signs are simple. Don’t you understand? Talk to a sex therapist, he will explain things to you. It’s not for me to explain to you, I’m not a doctor. There are ways to unmask a thief. I am not an expert on such matters.
Effectively, then, the investigative and law enforcement agencies will be required to form a special enquiry commission to determine who is gay and who is not?
If it becomes necessary, yes of course. But not if the necessity does not arise. We’re just proposing amendments to the Family Code which at present is not on the side of the child who must be protected from the influence of such a parent. At present when judges rule to deprive a person of their parental rights they do so on other criteria. It is only where there are clear signs that judges are supposed to rule in favour of the parent who has the traditional sexual orientation.
Alexei Aleksandrovich, it is a well-known fact that after a divorce many women are very angry with their husbands and want revenge. Are not you afraid that, if your amendment is approved, then every divorced mother will denounce her former husband as a homosexual?
In that case, she could just as well denounce her ex-husband as a thief or a murderer. That would be absurd. At present the courts are doing their best to keep families together. Even if a person didn’t pay alimony for ten years and then suddenly paid 300 roubles [approximately 10 USD], they would not be deprived of their parental rights. And I’m sure that simply on the basis of a slanderous allegation judges would not deprive anybody of their parental rights. That would only happen if there were clear signs.
At present there are 74 thousand unadopted children in orphanages. Have you ever reflected that if homosexual parents have their children taken away from them, Russia will have hundreds of thousands of children no longer being cared for by their parents?
You don’t need to worry about the state. Our primary task is to raise a healthy generation.
Even in orphanages?
What do you mean? That in its orphanages the state neglects these children? Most probably such cases will be extremely rare. After all, it’s hardly likely that both parents will turn out to be homosexual. Such cases are extremely rare. If one of the parents were to be deprived of parental rights, the other parent would be able to care for the child.
What if the child is being brought up, for example, by a single mother who is a homosexual? It is still necessary to deprive her of her parental rights?
Of course she should definitely be deprived of her rights to the child. We shall see to it, have no doubts. Homosexuals must not raise children. They corrupt them. They do them much more harm than if the child were in an orphanage. I am deeply convinced of this.
In many European countries parliamentarians are now moving in the opposite direction by allowing same-sex marriage. Do you not think that your bill will become yet another obstacle to the creation of a visa-free space for Russia and Europe?
We view Europe as Sodom and Gomorrah. Europe must not tell us how to live. The Europeans can live any way they like, but they mustn’t tell us what to do. If negotiations about a visa-free space mean that our streets should have gay parades marching around, I am categorically against international relations of that kind and shall speak out against them.
Who else in “United Russia” supports you?
Shortly everybody will return from the parliamentary recess. I’m sure I’ll find support in parliament .
Source (in Russian): Slon magazine, September 5, 2013