Recognition of same-sex unions in Russia

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Legal status of same-sex unions

* Not yet in effect, but automatic deadline set by judicial body for same-sex marriage to become legal

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Russia recognizes neither same-sex marriage nor any other form of civil union for same-sex couples. Russian laws stipulate several provisions which prevent the recognition of legal foreign marriages in Russia and a marriage entered into by two persons of the same sex is not one of them.[1]

Position of the Russian Orthodox Church[edit]

In 2016, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow stated that same-sex marriage is a form of "Soviet totalitarianism". In May 2017, he likened it to Nazism and referred it as threat to family values during a visit to Kyrgyzstan.[2]

Same-sex marriage campaign in Russia[edit]

A photo taken during the attempt to register a same sex marriage in Moscow, Russia on May 12, 2009.

In April 2009, Nikolai Alekseev launched a campaign for same sex marriage in Russia. He had previously stated in 2005 and again in 2008 that his LGBT Human Rights Project is ready to help a genuine gay or lesbian couples who want to get its family and marriage rights respected in Russia.[3]

On May 12, 2009, a lesbian couple, Irina Fedotova (Fet) and Irina Shipitko applied for marriage at the Tverskoy Office for the Registration of Civil Acts (ZAGS) in the centre of Moscow. The couple's appeal to the Court said: "The Russian Constitution and family laws do not prohibit same-sex marriages." The lesbian couple declared to The New York Times: "We have love, we have happiness, we want to be together for our whole lives and we want to do this here in Russia." [4][5]

It was done during the upcoming Slavic Pride and also upcoming Eurovision Song Contest 2009, both scheduled on May 16 in Moscow. The 2009 edition of Moscow Pride, renamed as Slavic Pride, took place under the motto "Gay equality - no compromise", postulating the right to adopt children and same-sex marriage.[6] The location of the protest was changed at the last moment to the Vorobyovy Gory viewpoint near Moscow State University, a popular spot for wedding photographs. This location underlined the motto of the protest.[7] The couple received a written denial from Svetlana Potamyshneva, head of the office, who denied to register the marriage stating that “Point 3 of Article 1 of the Family Code of Russia stipulates that the regulation of family relations must adhere to the principle of a voluntary union between a man and a woman”. In June 2009, the couple appealed to the Tverskoy District Court against the written denial they received from the Marriage office. Their claim stated: "The Russian Constitution and family laws do not prohibit same-sex marriages. In addition, family and marriage rights, including those same-sex, are guaranteed with Articles 8 and 12 of the European Human Rights Convention ratified by the Russian Federation". The Court hearing scheduled on August 26, 2009 was postponed to September 9, 2009 and later, October 6, 2009.[8][9][10] The Court upheld the decision of the Tverskoy ZAGS and rejected the arguments of the couple. Nikolai Alekseev told journalists that the case will be appealed up to Supreme Court and to the European Court of Human Rights. Caroline Mecary -a French lawyer who defend a French gay couple in a similar case at the European Court, said in June 2009 that she will take the case of the Russian couple to Strasbourg. Nikolai Alekseev, who acted as the lawyer of the lesbian couple, told the journalist that his organization will help the couple to legally register their marriage in Canada in October 2009 and later seek its legal recognition in Russia.[11] [12] [13]

The couple has announced their intent to marry in Toronto, Canada on 23 October 2009, where same-sex marriage is opened for non-residents and later pursue legal recognition of their union from the Russian government.

The couple entered into same-sex marriage as planned on October 23. The ceremony was celebrated by first Canadian openly gay Judge Harvey Brownstone. Numerous media and local activists were present at the ceremony during which Irina Fedotova-Fet and Irina Shipitko exchanged vows. The newly wed couple received their marriage certificate which they intend to use upon their return to Russia to have their Canadian marriage also recognized in their home country. While the Family Code limits marriage to opposite-sex couples in Russia, there is a loophole in terms of the recognition of foreign marriages, where the basis of gender is not specified. The couple together with their lawyer Nikolai Alekseev as well as local activists hosted a press conference at the Toronto City Hall before the ceremony during which Canadian gay activists spoke about their struggle for marriage equality stressing the importance of supporting similar movements in other countries, including Russia.[14][15][16][17][18][19][20][21]

On 21 January 2010, the Moscow City Court upheld the decision of the Tverskoy District Court of 6 October 2009.[22][23][24] In July 2010 Irina Fedotova (Fet) and Irina Shipitko launched their complaint against Russia at the European Court of Human Rights.[25]


Date(s) conducted Support legalizing state sanctioned same-sex marriage Oppose legalizing state sanctioned same-sex marriage Partly agree, partly disagree / Hard to answer / Difficult to answer Margin of error Sample Conducted by Polling type
1 June 2019 – 2 June 2019 7% 87% 6% 3.6% 1,500 respondents Public Opinion Foundation
1 July 2015 – 31 July 2015 5% 90% 5% 3.3% 2,471 Institute for Comparative Social Research PAPI
11 April 2015 – 12 April 2015
4 July 2015 – 5 July 2015
8% 80% 3.5% 1,600 respondents Russian Public Opinion Research Center
27 March 2015 – 30 March 2015 7% 84% 9 4.1% 800 adults Levada Center
15 January 2013 – 18 January 2013 5% 85% 10 3.4% 1,600 adults Levada Center
July 2012 10% 77% 13 Levada Center
July 2010 14% 84% 4 Levada Center
17 May 2005 14.3% 73.4% Levada Center
April 2005 15% 74% 12% Levada Center
29 January 2005 – 30 January 2005 14% 59% 27% 3.4% 1,600 adults All-Russian Public Opinion Research Center Interviews

The Institute for Comparative Social Research, which was conducted from 1 July 2015 to 31 July 2015, found that 5% of Russians favor or strongly favor allowing gays and lesbians to marry legally, with 3% among Russians aged 35+ years old, 5% among Orthodox, 8% among religious "nones", and 9% aged 18-34 years old.[26]

See also[edit]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ "Public opinion poll: Majority of Russians oppose gay marriages and a gay President, but support a ban on sexual orientation discrimination". Archived from the original on 14 June 2007. Retrieved 3 August 2009.
  2. ^ Solomon, Feliz (May 30, 2017). "Russia's Highest Religious Authority Just Compared Gay Marriage to Nazi Germany". The Times. Retrieved 31 May 2017.
  3. ^ "European Court of Human Rights Rejects Right to Sham Same-Sex Marriage in Russia". Archived from the original on 26 February 2009. Retrieved 3 August 2009.
  4. ^ Schwirtz, Michael (2009-05-13). "In Moscow, an Attempt to Wed Pushes Gay Rights". The New York Times. Retrieved 3 August 2009.
  5. ^ Galpin, Richard (2009-05-14). "Violence feared over Moscow gay march". BBC News. Retrieved 3 August 2009.
  6. ^ "Russia to Gays: Get Back into the Closet". Retrieved 21 July 2009.[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ "Police Forcefully Break Up Gay Rights Protest". Archived from the original on 26 May 2009. Retrieved 21 July 2009.
  8. ^ "Russian lesbian couple go to court over right to marry". Pink News. 2009-08-27. Retrieved 2009-10-07.
  9. ^ "Drama in Moscow court over lesbian marriage". ABC News. Associated Press. 2009-08-26. Retrieved 2009-10-07.[dead link]
  10. ^ "Gay marriage court case sparks kisses and clashes". The Star. Toronto. 2009-08-27. Retrieved 27 August 2009.
  11. ^ "Russia Court Throws Out Lesbian Couple Marriage Request". The New York Times. Retrieved 21 July 2009.[dead link]
  12. ^ "Russian court blocks same-sex wedding". CBC News. Retrieved 21 July 2009.
  13. ^ "Moscow court finds refusal to register same-sex marriage". Retrieved 21 July 2009.
  14. ^ "Two Russian Women Seek Marriage in Moscow, Ready for External Lawsuit". Retrieved 21 July 2009.[permanent dead link]
  15. ^ "Russian Lesbian Couple Denied Marriage License". ABC News. Associated Press. 2009-05-12. Retrieved 2009-10-07.[dead link]
  16. ^ "Lesbians to attempt first gay marriage in Russia". Reuters. May 6, 2009. Retrieved 20 July 2009.
  17. ^ "Russian lesbians denied country's first gay marriage". Reuters. 2009-05-12. Retrieved 20 July 2009.
  18. ^ "Russian Lesbian Couple just married in Toronto. The couple intends to start a legal battle to have their union recognized in Russia". Archived from the original on 2012-02-24. Retrieved 2009-10-25.
  19. ^ "Russian lesbians tie the knot in Toronto". Retrieved 3 August 2009.
  20. ^ Aulakh, Raveena; Balkissoon, Denise. "From Russia, to get married". The Star. Toronto. Retrieved 3 August 2009.
  21. ^ "Russian lesbians travel to Toronto to wed". Retrieved 3 August 2009.
  22. ^ "Court upholds rejection of Russia's first lesbian marriage". Retrieved 21 July 2009.
  23. ^ "Moscow court rules refusal to register same-sex marriage legal". Retrieved 21 July 2009.
  24. ^ "Moscow City Court turns down lesbians' complaint". Retrieved 21 July 2009.
  25. ^ Russian lesbian couple denied right to tie knot in Moscow
  26. ^ Religious Belief and National Belonging in Central and Eastern Europe