Russian gay parental rights target of new bill

A legislator in Russia has introduced an amendment to the country's proposed anti-gay legislation that could deny gay and lesbian parents custody of their children.

Legislator says law against homosexual 'propaganda' should apply in custody cases

Russian MP Aleksey Zhuravlev says "non-traditional" sexual orientation should be a reason for denying custody of children. In this photo, police detain a gay rights activist in St. Petersburg on June 29. (Alexander Demianchuk/Reuters)

A Russian legislator has proposed a bill that could be used to deny gay parents custody over their children.

The draft bill, published on the State Duma (parliament) website on Thursday, would make the "fact of non-traditional sexual orientation" a basis for denying custody. Other grounds include alcoholism, drug use, and abuse.

The proposal comes in the wake of a bill banning homosexual "propaganda" among minors. Authors of the bill have justified it as a measure aimed at protecting children, and not suppressing the LGBT community.

Alexei Zhuravlev, the author of the new bill, referred to the earlier law, passed in June, and said that homosexual "propaganda" had to be banned not only in the public space "but also in the family."

The law sparked international outrage and led to calls for a boycott of the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi.

According to state-owned media outlet Russia Today, Zhuravlev's explanatory note on the proposed amendment says the "non-traditional sexual orientation of one or both parents would become sufficient reason to deprive both of them of their parental rights."

Russian-American journalist and gay-rights activist Masha Gessen told CBC Radio's Q over the summer that she has decided to flee Russia for the U.S. with her family.

She said she was aware of a bill in the works targeting her same-sex parental rights and "directly threatening" her children.