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Tuesday, 12 March 2013

Russia's first gay friendly children's book

The first children's book in Russian which includes gay parents has been published.

'(Un)usual Families around Me' tells of a little girl living with a single father. Since almost all the other children she knows live in completely different families, the child thinks about how it happened. She learns about all sorts of 'family', including single-parents, adoptive, parents with disabilities, as well as 'non-traditional', that is two moms or two pops. The narrative is accompanied by images and art assignments for the child.

Russia has been adopting so-called "propaganda of homosexuality" laws, starting in St. Petersburg, and now under discussion on the national level. These ban even talking to minors about the social equivalence of 'traditional' and 'non-traditional' families.

The laws are directly confronted in the book, as same-sex parents, transgender parents and gay-friendly heterosexual and single parent families express their concern about the state policy of dividing families into 'usual' and 'unusual', 'traditional' and 'non-traditional'.

Says the book's author, Sasha Semenova:
My friends and I, who are raising children, felt that we lacked something to help explain to kids the ideas of tolerance and respect.
Says Polina Andrianova, director of the Russian organisation 'Coming Out' which helped publish the book:
Same-sex families feel threatened and intimidated by the 'homosexual propaganda' law every day, just because they are raising children. We felt that under these circumstances this book was especially important.
The book was printed with the support of the German Henrich Boell Foundation, which is affiliated with the German Green Party. This foreign funding has especially drawn the attention of St Petersburg MP Vitaly Milon, one of the main advocate of the anti-gay laws and the man who has tried to charge pop star Madonna after she mocked his law on a St Petersburg concert stage.

Foreign support for Russian groups has come under sustained attack in Russia's parliament. Russian law now requires any group receiving non-Russian funding to register as "acting as a foreign agent".

The book, which activists have been distributing for free, has been widely discussed in Russian media and social networks. Showing the depths of anti-gay feeling in the country, according to Coming Out more than 40% of parents in the largest internet forum for families with children in St. Petersburg, the Russian city regarded as the most progressive and Western-looking, considered the book to be 'homosexual propaganda'.

Watch a fabulous video about the book after the jump:

(Не)обычные семьи from Kseniia Khrabrykh on Vimeo.

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