Right to bind family

The incident that has recently taken place does not only shock with Interior Ministry’s brutality as this comes as no surprise, but more so as an instance of exceptional cynicism with which society and the state treat LGBT people, demanding to meet the criteria that they themselves condemn.


Konstantin and Anton (names changed for security reasons) met about 8 years ago on the Internet. Kostya has been an Israeli citizen for almost 30 years, and Anton is a citizen of Russia. They both had been working remotely as graphic designers as there are no state borders for such work. They communicated in course of work on collaborative projects and finally understood that they love each other and want to be together not only virtually, but also in real life.


In 2010, Anton moved to Israel, and they started the phased naturalization process i.e. the way to obtaining citizenship as required by the law. They prepared documents and attended interviews in the Ministry of Internal Affairs, everything step by step, all as it should be. After seven years have passed, according to the law Anton had the right to file a petition for citizenship. But no one could have thought that instead of citizenship Anton would be instructed to leave Israel within 30 days. Neither the lawyer’s appeals nor entreaties could prevent it, and Anton was forced to go to Russia, to a country where he had nothing, nor a home of his own or work. Moreover, staying in Russia can be dangerous for Anton, since it is almost impossible to hide that he has been in same-sex relationships for seven years, and Russia is a notoriously homophobic on both official and private levels. He is forced to stay now in his parents' house, in a small town where everyone knows each other and where his life is in danger.


Of special interest is the pretext they used for deporting Anton. The Ministry of Internal Affairs did not recognize the guys as a couple, because a neighbor failed to confirm this. The neighbor did not know that the people who lived next to him were in fact a same-sex family. Neither a joint apartment, nor common business and a common bank account, nor friends’ testimonies, nor any other evidence could convince the Ministry of Internal Affairs. All of it didn’t matter but a neighbor’s testimony did, testimony by someone who cannot be expected to know other tenants’ life circumstances. And does not society require us to be more modest, not to show and not to advertise? How many times have we heard: "live as you wish, but why should we know about it." The guys did not wave flags at everyone and did not advertise, they did not confess to all the neighbors, and now this was the main reason why they had to part.


Another reason why the officials found the pair not real was because Kostya's parents did not accept his choice and did not want to communicate with his beloved. True, the guys did not visit the parents together, because the parents did not want to see Anton. The Ministry of Internal Affairs cannot blame them, because many parents of LGBT people still find it difficult to accept their children, their partners and their families. This is a tragedy for both parents and their children, but this is no reason to conclude that the relationship between the spouses is fictitious.


We must acknowledge that there is homophobia in the society, and not all neighbors are equally loyal, and not everyone is trustworthy. Not all parents are willing to accept their children or their spouses. Not all parts of society are ready to know that there are same-sex couples in the neighborhood. Same-sex couples still have to more or less conceal their relationship; and they cannot be blamed for this. All the more so it is impossible to punish people for the problem that we have as a society.


Of course, Oleg will not stop, he will seek his legal right to be with his beloved and create a family in his fatherland, just like everyone else does.


The deputy of Israeli Knesset Kseniya Svetlova did’t stand aside and send the petition to minister of Internal Affairs. 


Foto: Konstantin Bortnovskiy


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