Earlier this year, Russia passed a law banning any country that allows same-sex couples to marry from adopting children from Russia. Some countries have already felt the effects of this law, like Sweden, which Russia halted adoptions to in October. Now, it seems, because of the other restrictions on adoption, there is only one country in the world that is permitted to adopt children from Russia.
According to Pavel Atakhov, Russia’s Presidential Commissioner for Children’s Rights, Italy is the only nation that both bans same-sex marriage and has the necessary bilateral adoption agreement with Russia. There were previously agreements with the United States and France, but both have been revoked. The Russian Duma voted last December to ban adoptions to the U.S. because American authorities did not allow Russian diplomats and law enforcers to investigate the mistreatment of Russian adoptees. Atakhov explained, “Such cases of pedophilia, violence, and brutality as we have in America, we have nothing like that anywhere else.” France, like Sweden, was impacted because of its passage of marriage equality.
Russia has a severe problem with abandoned children, with some tens — if not hundreds — of thousands of orphans living in institutions or foster care, rates four times higher than most Western nations. Many have severe disabilities and are condemned to live in those institutions until they die. Still, Russian lawmakers continue to worry more that homosexuality is harmful to children, with another bill proposed that would disqualify gay and lesbian parents from custody of their own biological children. Its sponsor, Alexei Zhuravlev, deputy of the Russian Duma, believes children are better off in an orphanage than with a gay or lesbian parent. That bill is expected to come up for debate in the Duma in February during the Olympic Games.
Despite these limitations to making sure these children can find loving homes in other countries, Astakhov nevertheless asserts, “This is not our fate. We have national adoption as a priority.”