Russia: How Russia’s First Married Gay Couple Ended Up Fleeing

It had seemed like a momentous event at first, a turning point for gay Russians. In retrospect, the man who helped bring the story to light wonders if it was worth sharing at all.

“No one could have predicted any of this,” Valery Pecheykin told The Moscow Times this week at the progressive Gogol Center theater in central Moscow, where he works. The playwright was still processing the events that led to his close friend and newly-wed husband fleeing the country the night before.

Days earlier, Pavel Stotsko, 28, and Yevgeny Voytsekhovsky, 27, had accidentally become the first officially recognized same-sex married couple in Russia. Their story, broadcast on state television, had returned the topic of gay marriage to the national conversation in a country where tolerance towards LGBT people has nosedived under President Vladimir Putin.

The saga began on the morning of Jan. 25 when the newlyweds went to a Moscow civil service center to register their marriage in Russia. They had tied the knot earlier in January in Copenhagen, where same-sex marriage is legal. Denmark is only a short flight from Russia and they were already in possession of the right visas, the couple explained in interviews with Russian media.

The doctor and medical student brought their marriage documents to the center, where an officer stamped them and, just like that, recognized their union. The whole affair took about five minutes, the couple said.

The ease with which their marriage was approved is difficult to grasp. Not only is gay marriage illegal in Russia; in 2013 the country passed a law against so-called “gay propaganda,” which makes it punishable for gay couples to kiss or carry a rainbow flag in the vicinity of minors. The law and accompanying rhetoric have buttressed homophobia in the country — a recent poll found that 83 percent of Russians find sex between people of the same genders to be “reprehensible.” Read more via Moscow Times


The Russian LGBT Network confirms that Pavel Stotsko and Evgeniy Voytsekhovsky had to leave the Russian Federation because of the pressure and unlawful actions of the Russian law enforcement agencies. Pavel and Evgeniy did not expect such an outcome, and it was the real threat to their freedom and security that forced them to leave.

Few days ago, Pavel and Evgeniy got a confirmation of their marriage in Russia (the marriage was initially registered on January 4, in Copenhagen), at one of the local Moscow departments of the Ministry of Interior. The officer who put the stamps confirming the marriage in their passport did not break any law. According to the Article 14 of the Family Code of Russia, the Russian Federation acknowledges the marriages registered in other countries if there are no obstacles, which are listed in the very same article. Taking into account the fact that Pavel and Evgeniy were adult and fully capable, were not married and did not have close family relations with each other, there were no legal obstacles to confirm their family status in Russia.

The right to marry and found a family is a human right that cannot be restricted on the grounds of sex, sexual orientation or gender identity. Even if the national legislation does not provide a possibility for the same-sex marriages, such a marriage registered legally in other countries must be recognized by the Russian authorities.

The reaction of the law enforcement agencies on fully legitimate activities of Pavel and Evgeniy were unlawful and reflected prejudiced personal opinions of some state officials who believe that same-sex marriages are “unacceptable” in Russia.

The trumped-up nature of the charges against Pavel and Evgeniy (they were accused of the damage of the documents) confirms the lawlessness of the law enforcement agencies. Physical and psychological violence and threats of the police officers have no justifications. Read more via LGBT Network