BY NATASHA BARSOTTI – The Russian embassy in London is warning parents that their children who are taking language courses in the UK may be placed with gay families, the Daily Mail Online reports.
The warning was among a list of complaints about poor treatment and living conditions Russian children are allegedly experiencing in the homes of host families.
Gay Star News says the Russian consulate said it issued the warning because the students' families complained, and it acted to ensure that "misunderstandings do not happen again."
But gay activists have blasted the consulate for its statement, saying that it is motivated by fear and is evidence of the Russian Foreign Ministry's "official homophobia in action."
Yury Gavrikov, head of the queer advocacy group Ravnopraive, reportedly told Gay Star News that "Russian officials and homophobes" are manipulating society's fears about homosexuality.
"If they talk about families and children, they will attract attention and show they feel the same things as the people," he said in the report.
Russia has faced intense international scrutiny and criticism recently, as a number of its cities have passed anti-gay gag laws that ban so-called promotion of homosexuality, particularly among minors.
The Council of Europe (CoE), of which Russia is a member, has pointed to a European Court of Human Rights ruling (in the case of gay rights activist Nikolai Alexeyev versus Russia) that stated there was no scientific evidence that open public debate about sexual orientation has an adverse effect on children.
In its June 21 statement, the CoE said government restrictions on the freedoms of queer people, "with reference to public opinion, moral or religious considerations," are "clearly unacceptable."