Under the rule of Vladimir Putin, authorities have declared gay men in Russia who have had children by surrogacy will face arrest for “baby trafficking”.
According to The Independent, Russian state media reported that a source within the country’s Investigative Committee compared surrogacy to baby trafficking, and insisted that it was an offence for men with “non-traditional orientation” to use their sperm for IVF.
“We plan to arrest a number of suspects, single men, and Russian citizens, who have used surrogate mothers to give birth to children,” the source added, despite the fact that surrogacy is actually legal in Russia. This plan has not been confirmed by the government.
Seven people have already been arrested in Russia on baby trafficking charges after a baby born to a surrogate mother died in a tragic cot death in January.
The baby was found in a flat in Moscow with three other children, all believed to have been conceived by surrogate, and two nannies.
The children were being cared for by nannies while their parents organised paperwork to take them back home. The baby was found to have died by natural causes.
But Russian authorities decided that the baby died “by negligence” and that the surrogacy arrangement constituted “baby trafficking”. Medical staff and lawyers involved in the surrogacy were arrested.
Lawyer Igor Trunov, who is representing the children’s parents, told The Independent: “Babies, unfortunately, do die… Whatever you do, you should not believe state investigators when they say they are acting out of interests of child welfare.
“They have chosen to send three eleven-month-old kids to a children’s psychiatric facility.”
The babies’ parents are suing the government in Russia for “abducting” their children, who are legally recognised as foreign citizens.
But government investigators are playing the blazing anti-LGBT+ sentiment in Russia, said Trunov, by linking baby trafficking to gay men.
He said: “They want to connect baby trafficking to the idea of sexual orientation, knowing how that resonates with the wider public. They understand no one is going to stand up for gays.”
Trunov added that he had no doubt a “political order” was driving the investigators’ sudden interest in gay men a surrogacy.
Russian president Vladimir Putin has consistently taken aim at the country’s LGBT+ community, stirring up hatred among his most loyal supporters, members of the Russian Orthodox Church, and leaving LGBT+ rights groups outside of Russia alarmed in the ways he is targeting queer people.
In 2013, Putin oversaw the introduction of the country’s infamous “gay propaganda” law, which bans so-called “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships” among minors.
Human rights monitors say that the law has been widely exploited in Russia to clamp down on freedom of expression for LGBT+ people.
During the recent constitutional referendum which allowed Putin to extend his rule beyond the 2024 cut-off, Putin’s campaign relied heavily on taking away LGBT+ rights, from effectively erasing trans people from existence to a constitutional ban on marriage equality.