Thursday, December 26, 2013

Spain to sign bilateral accord with Russia banning Spanish same-sex couples from adopting Russian children

Scene from a 2013 marriage equality demonstration in France.
The Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics are only six weeks away and there are no signs that the Russian government is anywhere close to disavowing any of its recently enacted anti-gay policies despite international pressure.

France, Germany and the United States have already announced they will be keeping their top diplomats away from the event and the U.S. and has also said their official delegation will include three openly gay former athletes in a clear dig at Russian policies.  Similarly the European Parliament condemned these laws in June and European Commission Vice President Vivian Redding announced she was boycotting the games on December 9th:
Until now most of the international attention has focused on so-called "anti-gay propaganda laws" which ban the "promotion" of homosexuality but some have also expressed dismay about recent Russian efforts to clamp down on international adoptions as well.

The Los Angeles Times took a look on the impact of a Russian law restricting adoptions from the United States that went into effect on January 1st:
The new Russian law banning adoptions by U.S. families that took effect Jan. 1 erased the Nagels' plans to bring Timofey to America in March. In all, it stranded more than 330 families who had already begun stitching hoped-for Russian adoptees into the webs of their lives.
"We have all these sorts of feelings of grief that we could process — if we didn't know he's still out there," said Andy Nagel, 31, an assistant pastor at a Presbyterian church in Germantown, Md.
The estimated 1,000 Russian adoptions annually by American families has been a tender subject in the Kremlin for years. Though an estimated 300,000 orphans languish in about 3,000 facilities across Russia, handing them over to a former Cold War enemy can strike a painful note.
The occasional story of a Russian adoptee abused or neglected in an American home — as in the case of 21-month-old Dima Yakovlev, who died in 2008 when his American father left him in a hot car for nine hours — sparks outraged headlines across the country.
But critics say the motivation for the ban was not so much concern over potential harm — they point out that far more orphans die after being adopted in Russian homes — as it was reprisal for a U.S. statute focusing on human rights in Russia.
Furthermore in July, a week after the "anti-gay propaganda" laws were signed, Russian president Vladimir Putin also signed a law explicitly banning adoption rights for same-sex couples.

In effect the law applied to all same-sex foreign couples wishing to adopt as well as heterosexual couples from countries that allowed same-sex couples to marry.

Though little noticed at the time, the effect was felt immediately in countries such as Canada ("Russia quashes Halifax couple's hope of adoption"), Sweden ("Russia stops adoptions to Sweden") and Spain ("Hundreds of Spanish adoptions halted by Putin's homophobia").

Shockingly instead of condemning these discriminatory turn of events both Sweden and Spain have shown a willingness to change their adoption treaties to meet Russia's homophobic demands and last week El País said Spain was ready to sign a new bilateral adoption agreement which would, in fact, kick Spanish same-sex couples to the curb.

The agreement would open up the possibility for Spanish heterosexual couples to adopt Russian children once again as long as Spain makes a commitment to keep Russian children from being adopted by same-sex couples. From the article:
The government has authorized the international accord on adoptions between Spain and Russia - pending since 2009 - during a meeting that took place on December 20th at the Council of Ministers.
The announcement was made by Vice President Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría, who said the accord was adopted at a meeting between Spanish and Russian authorities that took place on October 3rd in Madrid. 
Last August the Russian Supreme Court which ordered a hold on any proceedings with countries that allow gay marriage until there was a bilateral accord guaranteeing the children would not be raised by homosexuals including in the case of orphans. 
Since then 500 Spanish families have been affected and, as a result, negotiations between Madrid and Moscow had intensified. "We would like to renew these adoptions," said Santamaría.
Governmental sources tell the paper that the accord will be signed in January and might go into effect by April after Russian authorities had a chance to process the paperwork.  In cases the adopted children are abandoned in Spain or lose their Spanish parents Russia also requires Spain to report where they have been relocated to make sure that even in those circumstances the Russian child does not end up being raised by a Spanish same-sex couple.

A sad development in the country that became the first Spanish-speaking nation to pass a marriage equality law back in 2005.

UPDATE #1: The pro-Putin Voice of Russia reported on December 23rd that bilateral adoption agreements with the U.K. and Israel were also in the works although it doesn't mention whether it would demand those countries place restrictions on same-sex parents.

It does say that an agreement with Ireland is on hold due to concerns that there were too many American couples with Irish passports who might try to circumvent the blanket ban keeping U.S. citizens from adopting.

UPDATE #2: It appears that Canada might also be considering signing a bi-lateral agreement with Russia to "unfreeze" a number of stalled adoptions in process ("Russia's gay marriage memo puts Canadian adoptions at risk", The Globe and Mail, Jan. 8, 2014).


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