Wednesday, August 31, 2016


Russia's Leading Social Network Says No To Gay Relationship Status

A man (right) attacks a gay rights activist in central Moscow. Antigay attitudes are still quite prevalent in much of Russia.
A man (right) attacks a gay rights activist in central Moscow. Antigay attitudes are still quite prevalent in much of Russia.
By Claire Bigg
VKontatke, Russia's largest social network, is under fire from the homosexual community after saying it would not allow users to indicate in their profile that they are in a same-sex relationship.

The controversy erupted after a male VKontake user who identified himself only as Oleg wrote to the network's administrators for help after being unable to select the option "I have a boyfriend" in the section describing his relationship status.

He was reportedly told that gay marriages were banned in Russia and advised to "change sex" online. The administrator went on to wish him a "wonderful mood," according to press reports.

This has earned the ire of many from Russia's gay and lesbian community.

"They are not violating Russian law by doing this," says Nikolai Alekseyev, a leading Russian gay rights campaigner. "But from a moral and ethical point of view, considering that a huge number of gays and lesbians support this network, use it and help it make money, they should recognize such relationships."

VKontakte press secretary Vladislav Tsypluhin has since confirmed that it is not planning to introduce same-sex relationship status.

An RFE/RL request for an interview with a VKontakte representative went unanswered.

Gay activists have found VKontatke's handling of the situation and its sarcastic tone deeply offensive.

Widespread Hostility

Although homosexuality was decriminalized in 1993, hostility against gays and lesbians remains widespread in Russia.

Attempts to hold gay pride marches have been consistently crushed, and several Russian cities recently adopted new legislation criminalizing homosexual propaganda -- a vague term that many fear will be used to crack down on Russia's already marginalized homosexual community.
Some Russian gay activists have ended their membership of VKontakte.Some Russian gay activists have ended their membership of VKontakte.
Some Russian gay activists have ended their membership of VKontakte.
Some Russian gay activists have ended their membership of VKontakte.

Some activists have called on homosexual VKontakte users to protest by adding a pink triangle, a symbol of the battle for gay rights, to their profile picture or switching to the more gay-friendly Facebook.

Facebook not only allows users to indicate that they are homosexuals on their profile page, it has even recently added marriage icons depicting two grooms or two brides.

One of the reasons for Facebook's liberal stance on the issue may be that co-founder Chris Hugues himself is openly gay. He was one of the first to use the new icon after marrying his boyfriend in June.

Oleg, meanwhile, has left VKontakte and is happily "in a relationship" with his boyfriend on Facebook.

Claire Bigg

Claire Bigg covers Russia, Ukraine, and the post-Soviet world, with a focus on human rights, civil society, and social issues. Send story tips to​


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Comment Sorting
Comments page of 2
by: Jack from: US
August 02, 2012 14:03
please note on the photo above is pictured a homophobic RFE/RL staffer attacking from behind a peaceful gay man
In Response

by: Jack from: US
August 02, 2012 16:25
The preceding comment was written by the homophobic RFE/RL staffer, who is himself looks like gay.

by: Jack from: US
August 02, 2012 14:06
Vkontakte is a homophobic NATO minion.
In Response

by: Jack from: US
August 03, 2012 00:40
The comment above was written by Wahhabi terrorist.

by: jamie stalin from: Leningrad
August 02, 2012 14:45
Russia is a third-world hole. The Orthodox church there is very homophobic. VKontakte should be ashamed of itself. I vomit over VKontakte.

by: John D from: Burbank California
August 02, 2012 16:15
The attacker looks like a closet case.

by: Anonymous
August 02, 2012 16:20
""allow users to indicate in their profile that they are in a same-sex relationship""

for what ?

WOrld is not divided in "etero" and "omo"

or "islamic" and "hebrew"

or ... "black" and "withe" etnic .

To divide , to put "a point" where is not necessary

to pretend of to be different

is the first steep for razism

by: JimBjrIL from: US
August 02, 2012 16:54
Russia is a Mafia state ruled over by gansters. They replaced communism with mobster dictatorship. Until they have have actual free and fair elections, they will remain broken, undereducated, and become a third world nation.

by: Objective person
August 02, 2012 17:05
This is simply cultural. Westerners are to egocentric. Say, in Papua New Guinea, it's okay to walk naked. So a Papua New Guinea would demand the ability to post nude avatars of him. In many Western countries, nude photos as avatars would be considered "inapprorpiate". Why? Culture. So, this is simply cultural, and is regarded as "inappropriate" by many Russians. VKontantke doesn't want to loose support of its conservative members, who are much more numerically than 5-10 gay activists (it's always same few faces in each event) who actually care about this kind of thing.
In Response

by: Sey from: World
August 03, 2012 01:44
Exactly. It is cultural. The other great problem is that despite homosexuality has always existed throughout the world, it is Western liberalism which has invented the "Gay Pride" "Gay Parade" "Gay Activist".

All of the Gay world is the product of American culture, and the Western world expects us to accept that mindset into cultures that are way more ancient and way more conservative, or else we're called uncivilized.

This is in the very end a battle between American and Russian/Indian/Arab/etc cultures, between the gays who would want their countries to be just like America, and the people who will say, with raised fists if necessary, 'this is not America'.

The problem is that all countries are way more an America wannabe today, than truly themselves. So who will win?

If I can paraphrase Solzhenitsyn: "Men have forgotten God, that's why all this has happened."
In Response

by: Chuck from: USA
August 03, 2012 12:27

You are correct on all points of your remarks. Thank you for stating the facts / truth about all of this. America (self-proclaimed as "paradise") is trying to screw up the rest of the world as much as they are. I am an American, but I don't feel like I am in the right place. When I am in eastern Ukraine, I feel at home. It is simply a matter of being proud of who you are and not willing to change because the rest of the world is.

by: Leah from: USA
August 02, 2012 17:58
Great article. I'm the editor of, and we covered this article (with a link) so that more people will see it. Well done!
In Response

by: Anonymous
August 04, 2012 01:42

considering that you are a party in the dispute

I want to ask you

What You'd think
If in a social forum must / could clarify

if you are

a black or a white?

You can be sure that many would cry for the racist scandal !

this is because

is a possible source of discrimination

every indication that it is not strictly necessary

even if voluntary

because in that case

stating your sexuality where is not necessary to do

you are who want to stand out

by any other person that isn't like you

by: sphotak from: Earth
August 03, 2012 05:34
Its a private company people cannot force it to change its way of business ,
If those "Gays" do not find the portal welcoming they should look for another site.

Who pokes what and where , also who allows to get poked with anything and anywhere , is not any one's business.

Simply making their presence felt and doing parades will irk people , do whatever you like in your home.

by: siddarth from: india
August 04, 2012 14:15
how could we change that way what we born with....we're humans! are too... so don't try to be A in ur self and let be us in are!
In Response

by: Ruth from: toronto
August 05, 2012 03:58
to say that this is an "American issue" and that America wants the world to be as America is, just shows that you have no idea about North America. Clearly there are some homophobic Americans who agree with the site. This is not about being black or white, or gay or muslim or christian, this is about equality,plain and simple. And I do agree, the attacker looks like a closet gay. Russia has a long way to go... Here's hoping....
Comments page of 2

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