Parents who used surrogates driven out of Russia amid crackdown on 'non-traditional' families
Surrogacy is a main way non-traditional couples can have children in Russia - SERGEI SUPINSKY / AFP
Single men who became fathers through surrogacy are fleeing Russia as conservative politicians attempt to anchor large heterosexual families with two parents as the only socially recognized form of household.
Alexander, a single father from Moscow, fled Russia after seeing a story on state news agency TASS that authorities planned to arrest single men who were using surrogacy to have children.
"Investigators plan to arrest other suspects, including single Russian men who used surrogate mothers for IVF treatment to give birth to babies," an official quoted in history said last week, claiming the men were "not because of their surrogacy services entitled "non-traditional sexual orientation".
“I saw this message and I sent a message to my friends: I thought I was dreaming. It was crazy, ”Alexander told the telegraph, who asked to withhold his last name for security reasons.
"I bought plane tickets for the easiest destination to get to and left."
A recent criminal case accusing Russia's top fertility doctors of child trafficking has unleashed the ire of conservative politicians and has focused on single men who became parents thanks to surrogate mothers.
Surrogacy is legal in Russia, but that didn't stop the country's top investigative body, the Committee of Inquiry, from bringing child trafficking charges against nine people, including four fertility doctors, claiming they “violated Russian law governing the deployment of assisted reproductive technology. ”
The investigation began after police recorded the death of a newborn baby in an apartment outside Moscow in January. The child, born to a surrogate mother, was kept in the home while his birth parents attended to paperwork. The baby later died of sudden infant death syndrome.
Files reviewed by the Telegraph show how the criminal investigation has evolved towards anti-gay sentiment.
An investigator who recently interviewed Taras Ashitkov, a highly respected obstetrician and member of the American Society of Reproductive Medicine, asked the doctor prior to his imprisonment if he had noticed one of the men using surrogacy services “upset behaved in a strange way ”. or "showed any signs of homosexuality."
A few other single men who became parents through surrogacy have fled Russia in the past few days, terrified by official threats, according to attorney Konstantin Svitnev, who said some more people had received calls from investigators but were not officially summoned for questioning have been.
Russian law explicitly allows IVF treatments for couples and single women who are struggling to conceive. Single fathers are not mentioned, however, which enabled Mr. Svitnev to successfully defend the parental rights of hundreds of single men, citing the Russian Constitution, which prohibits any form of discrimination.
There are no legal reasons to prosecute single parents in Russia, even if they are gay, but President Vladimir Putin's increasingly conservative rhetoric in recent years has encouraged large numbers of politicians to push for legislation that makes LGBT people effective discriminates against and gives priority to traditional heterosexual marriage.
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