Lesbian couple weds in Russia through legal loophole

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A lesbian couple has managed to become legally married in Russia in what many are calling Russia’s ‘first gay marriage’. In the midst of draconian anti-LGBT+ laws, where same-sex marriage is banned and 75% of the population believes that homosexuality is ‘unacceptable’, Alyona Fursova and Irina Shumilova were married on Friday 7 November.

The couple was able to exploit a loophole in the Russian legal system due to the fact that Furosova was assigned male at birth. She does not identify as male, but from the point of view of the Russian state, she is legally considered so. As such, the wedding does not violate any law. The service took place at the St. Petersburg registry office, surrounded by friends and family.

Some LGBT+ rights activists in Russia see this as a positive move forward. Others, such as Nikolay Alekseev, disagree. Speaking on Russia Today, he said, ‘This is in no way a same-sex marriage. This is a question of transgender, not homosexuality… This is an old story; there had been such cases before. A certain gender is written in a passport, but how they dress for the wedding is their business.’

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Vitaly Milonov, a St Petersburg legislator, referred to the wedding as ‘an ugly insult to millions of Russian families’, and is attempting to have the marriage annulled. ‘There are certain moral standards which it is vital to implement… These mad people should be banned altogether from getting married.’

Under the reign of Vladimir Putin, the situation for LGBT+ individuals (and even those merely perceived as being LGBT+) has grown steadily worse. Since the implementation of the ‘Russian LGBT propaganda law’ was added as amendment to the Russian federal law ‘On Protecting Children from Information Harmful to their Health and Development’, there has been a rise in anti-LGBT+ sentiment and an increase in violence towards LGBT+ people.