Russia’s first legally married gay couple are now being pursued by police

Pavel Stotsko

Earlier this year, Russian gay couple Eugene Wojciehowski and Pavel Stotsko got married in Copenhagen.

Upon their return home, they weren’t expecting their marriage to be seen as legal, but to their — and everyone else’s — shock and delight, a government employee stamped their passports with the official confirmation of marriage in only five minutes.

The couple seem to have exploited a loophole in Russian law which meant the state had to recognise it. The law says that any marriages conducted abroad are legitimate unless it violates “Article 14  of the Family Code.”

To violate Article 14, the marriage has to be either between close relatives or adopted children and their adoptive parents. Other violations are if one person is already married, or if one of them is severely mentally ill and unable to make the decision for themselves.

However, as news about Russia’s first legally married gay couple began to spread, authorities have reportedly tried to track Eugene and Pavel down.

According to a message posted on the Russian LGBT Network Facebook page, police surrounded the couple’s apartment over the weekend.

“Right now, the police officers are trying to break into the apartment where two homosexual men – Evgeny Voytsekhovsky and Pavel Stotsko – reside,” the post reads.

“The police does not state the reasons of their appearance, right now they cut off the electricity and internet connection. Earlier young men stated that they are receiving threats in the social networks.

“Few days ago, the Russian authorities recognized same-sex marriage of Evgeny Voytsekhovsky and Pavel Stotsko, after it was registered in Denmark. They received special stamps in their passports confirming their marriage.

“The Interior Ministry later put the men’s passports on a list of invalid IDs and stated that it was a mistake.”

Pavel had previously revealed that the police had visited his parents’ home trying to search for him, while adding that his family have been getting threatening phone calls.

Russian television channel Rain TV – who have been reporting on the story – also placed an 18 age restriction on an online video discussion and interview with the couple.

That’s despite it only featuring three fully-clothed men talking about the legal issues surrounding the same-sex marriage.

Of course, after realising the loophole exists, Interior Minister Vitaly Milonov said that the Russian government will “urgently” pass legislation to close the legal technicality.

 Last week, a poll found that 83% of Russians thought that gay sex was “reprehensible.”

The number is a sharp rise from the 76% who were asked the same question in 2008, and the 68% of people back in 1998.

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