Russian Gay Couple Who Had Marriage Recognised Now Face Charges

A gay Russian couple who had their marriage recognised by exploiting a legal loophole in the country's legislation now face charges for "intentional damage to passports".


Couple Paul Stotzko and Eugene Wojciechowski got married in Denmark on January 4, afterwards returning home to Russia where their passports and marriage certificate were stamped by an official.

Although Russia does not have marriage equality for same-sex couples, under Russian law marriages conducted abroad are deemed legitimate – providing there is nothing contradicting ‘Article 14 of the Family Code’.

The Family Code prohibits marriages between close relatives and those who are already married, but contains no prohibition regarding same-sex marriage, reports The Independent.

On January 27, media outlets ran with the story that notoriously LGBT-unfriendly Russia had accidentally legitimised a gay marriage which spurred an immediate response from government officials who announced that the couple were to face charges for “intentional damage to passports or negligence”.

“With respect to men who initiated marking in their passports of citizens of the Russian Federation not provided for by the current legislation, cases were brought about administrative offences provided for in Article 19.16 of the Administrative Code of the Russian Federation,” said a press release from the Moscow Department of the Interior.

“Article 19.16 of the Administrative Code on ‘deliberate damage to documents’ entails a warning or an administrative fine in the amount of 100 to 300 rubles,” reported Russian news agency Interfax.

The couple’s officially stamped passports. (Image via Pavel Stotzko, Facebook)

A representative for the Ministry of Internal Affairs said the couple’s passports will be cancelled, while elsewhere Moscow officials denied that the marriage had ever been legalised.

“Employees of state service centres don’t stamp passports,” an official told The Moscow Times. “Therefore, the information indicated in the news is false.”

Other news reports have stated that the clerk who stamped the couple’s forms, and their immediate superior, are to be sacked immediately.

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