Children of gay parents in Russia hide family truths

Working in a St. Petersburg restaurant after high school, Kristina Kochetkova was prepared for long hours and rude customers. She didn’t expect her boss to goad her in front of her co-workers for having two mothers.
“It felt incredibly uncomfortable,” Kochetkova said from Russia’s second-largest city, recalling how he interrupted a staff meeting to ask about her parents, staring as she blushed.

The incident, which took place after President Vladimir Putin stoked international ire by signing a law banning the spread of so-called gay propaganda, helped her decide she wouldn’t talk about her family as she starts college this week. The 17-year-old grew up knowing her parents were unusual. Now she worries they might be considered criminals.

“Technically, my mothers are breaking the law by propagating their relationship to me,” Kochetkova said in a telephone interview. “It’s sad and incredibly unfair.”

As the school year starts, same-sex parents are grappling with how honest to be with teachers and classmates. The law Putin signed June 30 puts gays and lesbians with children at particular risk, said human rights activist Lyudmila Alexeyeva, head of the Moscow Helsinki Group.

“It’s a cruel measure against those children,” she said. “Their parents are scared and teaching them to hide and lie.”

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Article: 3rd September 2013 www.bloomberg.com

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