How L.G.B.T. Couples in Russia Decide Whether to Leave the Country

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06/11/2019

In March, a member of the Russian senate asked the prosecutor general to look into the issue of yoga in pretrial detention. Yoga classes, organized on the recommendation of human-rights activists, had been offered to a limited number of inmates since September. But then Alexander Dvorkin, a man who is considered the country’s preëminent expert on cults, wrote a white paper warning that yoga can lead to sexual arousal, which in turn can lead to homosexual contact between inmates. Yelena Mizulina, a parliament member who has proposed a variety of antigay bills in the last seven years, immediately contacted the prosecutor general’s office, and this past month, yoga classes for detainees were suspended. I left Russia with my family five and a half years ago. The parliament had just voted unanimously to ban what it called “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” directed at minors and, on a separate day, adoptions by L.G.B.T. people. Mizulina publicly pledged to create a mechanism for removing adopted and biological children from the homes of same-sex couples. The country was tumbling into some black hole of homosexual panic, and getting out seemed to be the only sane option.

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