A gay Russian couple with two kids, were forced to flee the country this summer after authorities threatened to take away their kids, aged 12 and 14.
Andrey Vaganov and Evgeny Erofeyev, who were married in Denmark, had been raising their sons together for nearly a decade before Russia targeted them under the country’s “gay propoganda” law.
The law which was passed in 2013, punishes the distribution of “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relationships” among minors. This means that an LGBTQ+ visibility is illegal. The law has also been used to discriminate against the community on every other level including state-sanctioned harassment of activists. The German heavy metal band Rammstein recently flouted this law when two bandmates kissed on stage at a performance in the country.
During a hospital visit, the couple’s 12-year-old son informed the hospital staff that he didn’t have a mother but had two fathers. Vaganov was told he would have to report to police the next morning to answer questions.
After meeting with an investigator the next day, the couple’s children were forced to undergo a physical exam to rule out abuse. Days later news articles began claiming the couple had raped their child.
“We never asked our children to hide anything,” Vaganov told the Russian-language news outlet Meduza, according to Buzzfeed News. “This was our conscious position, explaining why is it somehow stigmatizing and so on.”
After authorities suggested that the couple’s youngest son, Yuri, be turned over to a state-owned rehabilitation center while the case was being investigated, the couple decided to leave the country. After they left investigators demanded they turn themselves in for questioning and, according to Buzzfeed News, the authorities even considered charging the couple with murder of the children.
Although no official charges have been brought against Vaganov and Erofeyev, Russia’s Investigative Committee launched a criminal case against the adoption agency, citing negligence for allowing them to adopt their two children. Neither Vaganov nor Erofeyev are a defendant or witness in the case.