A same-sex Russian couple got the shock of their lives when their marriage was recognized as legitimate when they re-entered their home country, after their wedding in Denmark. But, in an interesting legal twist, this does not mean that same-sex marriage has been legalized in Russia. It is still technically illegal.
According to The Independent, Russian law recognizes marriages that have been officiated overseas, as long as said marriage does not contravene Article 14 of the Family Code. This article of the law does not allow marriages between close family members and excludes people who have been previously married. But it does not exclude same-sex marriages.
So, when same-sex couple Eugene Wojciechowski and Pavel Stotsko went to get their marriage validated, the official did not ask them any “superfluous” questions.
“He did not even change his expression,” the couple said.
This surprised them as the rules state that the “mutual voluntary consent of the man and woman entering in marriage” is required to legitimize the marital union.
In Russia, homosexuality is not a criminal offense. Nevertheless, homophobia is still widespread, Newsweek reports. A recent survey has shown that almost 85 percent of Russians believe that sex between people of the same gender is “always reprehensible” or “almost always reprehensible.” These views were shared by people who were young and old. Less than 10 percent of the survey participants did not express any strong feelings against same-sex unions. The survey was conducted by The Levada Center, a Russian non-governmental research organization.
Despite the decriminalization of homosexuality in Russia, The LGBT community still has to deal with the country’s gay propaganda law. This law prevents them from expressing their sexuality in public. The law has been linked to an increase in hate crimes against gay Russians, as these have doubled since it was introduced. Russian President Vladimir Putin claims that gay people in Russia don’t face any harsh “bans” and has said that the LGBT community is treated worse in Islamic countries, Newsweek notes.
The percentage of people who are against homosexuality in Russia has increased over the years. According to The Moscow Times, 68 percent of those surveyed in 1998 said that they weren’t “in favor” of gay sex, while 76 percent said the same in 2008.
Eugene Wojciechowski and Pavel Stotsko’s lucky break may not be made available for all gay couples in Russia, though. LGBTQ Nation reports a representative for the Russian state is looking into changing the Family Code to close the loophole that legitimizes same-sex marriages registered overseas.