Friday, January 22, 2010

To Russia With Love!

Today, I discovered women.

Two of them actually. Now, please don't claim that I am over-compensating for years of lost opportunity - this isn't a Californian trial or something, where you get to question my psychosexual development as an individual. Instead, listen to the rest.

The two women I discovered were Russian. And they are acting as lovers whose rights have not only been denied by their own government, but, when they thought they had found a loophole, they found their rights even more disposable.

Two women, Irina Fyet and Irina Shepitko, applied for marriage certification in Moscow as a means of honouring their love. They were rejected; apparently homosexual rights in the planet's largest country are not to be recognized. So, the women came to the planet's second largest country - Canada - to be legally married, where marriage between members of the same sex has been legal since 2005. Thus, in October 2009, these women were married.

Today it was announced that, in the ensuing trial to determine whether the marriage would be recognized. The preciding judge stated that he would "have to uphold the decision made by the registry office in May. Foreign marriages accepted in Russia must involve a couple of opposite sex."

Fyet responded; "We were born here, this is our country, we want to be married in our homeland, Russia."

Russia's homosexual community, though not actively politicalled repressed, is forced underground as a result of widespread social codemnation. Homosexuality was not decriminalized from the Soviet Era until 1993 (two years after the communist state collapsed), but it would seem as though generations of persecuting homosexuality has left a considerable scar in Russia's social acceptance of homosexuals. In 2005, Russia's first gay rights parade in Moscow was broken up by neo-fascists, police, and Orthodox Christians.

It order to achieve any degree of state recognition for their love (and the rights that would result), Fyet and Shepitko will have to appeal to the European Court of Human Rights, who have not thus far shown their favour or disfavour with the extension of homosexual rights. A final ruling can take as long as 5 years.

Just for love to be recognized. 5 years.


Love is an immensely rare moment. Not everybody gets to experience it. It is a shame upon humanity that, when it is felt, it is destroyed by our neighbours through the impersonal and systematic powers of the law.

This case reminds me of Rita Mae Brown.

"No government has the right to tell its citizens when or whom to love. The only queer people are those who don't love anybody."


I've asked this of some friends over the past week that I have met through Gay Family Values; does political persecution have degrees? And if so, at which point is one allowed to apply for political refugee status from one country to the next? Does it have to be illegal to be gay (as in almost every African state)? Or illegal to live in some neighbourhoods (as in many Caribbean nations)? Or illegal to marry? Canada could accept all of these persons as refugees because they are not permitted to live a life equal to that experienced by their neighbours - it is a reality that hurts everyday for homosexuals around the world. Does Canada have a responsibility to act as a political (if not a social) sanctuary from all forms of persecution?

Please note: I'd really be interested in discussing the philosophy of human rights; whenever the idea of "rights" comes up, I'm often conflicted by this sensativity towards a politically determined social reality (Rousseau, you genius, you were right again!). But that can't happen right now.