In a coming-out story to discourage many adolescent Russians from leaving the closet, a gay teenager in the Moscow region was put away in a drug clinic by his irate traditionalist father.
Ivan Kharchenko spent 12 days in the Marshak rehab facility before he was broken out by his supporters who staged an improvised siege of the facility, activist Dmitry Aleshkovsky Tweeted on early Wednesday.
Kharchenko publicly admitted his homosexuality at his 16th birthday earlier this year, Novaya Gazeta reported.
The news did not shock his classmates, but devastated some of his relatives, the report said. His grandmother tricked Kharchenko into going to a “witch” who unsuccessfully attempted to exorcize the “spirit of homosexuality” from him.
Failing magic, his father ordered the teenager to go to the drug clinic and left him there, allegedly against his will, Novaya Gazeta said.
“I’d rather have you disabled or a vegetable than gay,” the boy’s father was cited as saying by Ekho Moskvy radio.
The formal reason for hospitalization was Kharchenko’s alleged drug abuse and alcoholism, but medics failed to confirm the allegations about his bad habits, lawyer Violetta Volkova said, Ekho Moskvy reported.
Kharchenko was so drugged he was forgetting his friends’ names, Novaya Gazeta said.
However, he managed to put up an “I love you” banner, apparently addressed to his boyfriend, on his window in the rehab, though it was promptly taken down by staff, BBC Russian Service said.
Activists, spearheaded by Aleshkovsky and opposition leader Ilya Ponomaryov, a State Duma deputy with A Just Russia, staged a campaign in Kharchenko’s defense outside the clinic, insisting his placement in the rehab without his consent amounted to kidnapping.
Kharchenko was released on late Tuesday and spent the night at his mother’s, who mounted no strong objections to him being gay, Novaya Gazeta said. His grandmother refused to take him in.
Law enforcements will hold a check into Kharchenko’s hospitalization, the report said.
Open LGBT lifestyle became a hot topic in Russia after St. Petersburg legislators banned in March propaganda of such lifestyle to minors.
The vaguely-worded piece of legislation was denounced as homophobic propaganda by LGBT activists in Russia and beyond, but a bill proposing to spread the ban nationwide was later introduced into the State Duma and is pending review.
Ninety-four percent of Russians said they have never encountered gay propaganda, but 86 percent still support a ban on it, according to a poll by state-run VTsIOM earlier this month.
About 60 percent of some 750 callers at Ekho Moskvy said their offspring being gay would be a “tragedy” for them, the liberal radio reported.