- Title: LGBT+ family that fled Russia says advert brought more hope than hatred
- Date: 24th August 2021
- Summary: SPAINÂ´S NORTHEAST COST (RECENT - AUGUST 19, 2021) (REUTERS) RUSSIAN NATIONALS (FROM LEFT TO RIGHT) ALINA YUMA, MILA YUMA AND YUMA YUMA HOLDING A TABLET DISPLAYING THE AD PUBLISHED IN SUPERMARKET CHAIN VKUSVILL CLOSE OF TABLET DISPLAYING AD
- Embargoed: 7th September 2021 10:32
- Keywords: LGBT+ rights Russia Russian advertisement homophobic threats
- Location: SPAINÂ´S NORTHEAST COST
- City: SPAINÂ´S NORTHEAST COST
- Country: Spain
- Topics: Fundamental Rights/Civil Liberties,Europe,Government/Politics,Editors' Choice
- Reuters ID: LVA001ERN25ON
- Aspect Ratio: 16:9
- Story Text: Appearing in a Russian supermarket advert cost this same-sex family their jobs and savings as homophobic threats forced them to flee the country, but the women say the media exposure was worthwhile because it helped, if briefly, many LGBT+ people.
"Judging by what people write to me or tell me, the image they saw of our family gave them hope. And hope, in our situation, is very important," Youma, a 49-year-old psychologist and matriarch with close-cropped hair, told Reuters before breaking down in tears.
She is now living with her two adult, dreadlocked daughters, Mila and Alina, and an 8-year-old granddaughter in a flat outside Barcelona lent to them by a supporter for a month and hoping to get refugee status in Spain.
Alina's bride is still preparing to leave Russia, which openly discriminates against LGBT+ people.
They left Moscow in early August after receiving online messages threatening to kill and rape them, even the child. One featured a picture of a bloodied axe, and their home address was published online.
"Some of them were pretty terrifying ... The problem is in Russia the police don't help," said Mila, 23.
The family featured in a promotional article on the website of upmarket food retailer Vkusvill in which they talked about how they liked shopping for fair trade goods and hummus.
The article did not reference their sexuality, but anti-LGBT+ groups called for a criminal investigation and boycott of Vkusvill, which ultimately replaced the article with an apology, as threats flowed to the family.
Alina, who worked with autistic children, said her family's biggest fear in Russia was social services taking away her daughter, so they had to leave in order to stay together.
"We are thinking about schooling our child, Alina's child, to find a school where she can be accepted, where... I say it and I'm like losing my heart, where she can say about her family and not to lie about us, to be free and we of course are hoping to find here the acceptance, we hope to live in safe place here," added Mila, who used to work as a manager for an online education company.
She argued that the ad showing an LGBT family had broken new ground in Russia, where non-heterosexuals usually have to hide their sexuality and tend to become lonely outcasts.
"In Russia when they are talking about LGBT they are mostly talking about people who are not a family, who can't reproduce, who can't be a member of society so when we showed that we are a family, a real, big family, with children, with wifes, with dogs and cats, two really, really fat cats we showed that LGBT people can be a normal family, your neighbours and that was a huge success for us," she said.
Russia in 2013 banned the "promotion of non-traditional sexual relations to minors" - a move decried by Western countries as state-enforced bigotry. Last year, the government defined marriage in the constitution as being solely between a man and a woman.
The whole family said they will still campaigns for LGBT+ rights from Spain.
"We are not stopping we are going to fight for Russian LGBT even here, we are going to try and help people," Mila said.
(Production: Horaci Garcia, Nacho Doce, Silvio Castellanos, Andrei Khalip)
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