On July 13 a group of seven Russian senators led by Elena Mizulina introduced to the State Duma a set of bills aimed at “strengthening the institution of the family.” The cornerstone of this package is the Bill on Amendments to the Family Code of the Russian Federation.
While some recent bills, despite fine pro-family rhetoric from their authors, turned out to contain extremely dubious, if not outright dangerous, provisions, this time it is not the case.
The “Seven Senators’ Bill” has been in the works within the Federation Council (the upper chamber of the Russian Parliament) for nearly three years. And organizations actively protecting the family and the rights of parents, family experts, and representatives of the Russian Orthodox Church took an active part in this work.
The interim commission for improving family law headed by Mrs. Mizulina came up with an ambitious bill that, if adopted, would provide real, effective means to protect the family, the rights of parents, and marriage between a man and a woman (as required by the renewed Russian Constitution).
The main goal set by the authors of the “Seven Senators’ Bill” is, of course, to protect families from the illegal and unjustified removal of children from their parents. And this bill will successfully solve this problem.
- It explicitly proclaims that family and moral values of the peoples of Russia shall be respected.
- It enshrines in law important basic principles, like the presumption of the conscientiousness of parents (that is, the presumption that, as parents, they act bona fide and in accordance with the rights and legitimate interests of their children); when it comes to families, the guiding principles for legal regulation shall include respect for the independence of the family in its internal affairs and respect towards the authority of the parents.
- It fixes the vague norm about the right of the child to live and be raised in a family – previously it was used as an excuse for moving children from birth families to foster homes. The Family Code will now speak unambiguously of the right of the child to live and be raised in their birth family.
- The Family Code will be rid of the catch-all rationale for the removal of children from their parents – “a threat to the life and health of the child.” It was these very words, arbitrarily interpreted by officials and judges, that were causing tragedies, destroying the lives of many parents and children separated from each other.
- Removing children from their parents shall be generally prohibited, except in cases when parents are deprived of their parental rights or restricted therein, after due process, by a judge. At the same time, the bill makes the grounds for such actions crystal-clear: only real punishable behavior of the parents shall now result in deprivation and restriction of parenthood.
- In situations where taking care of their children is objectively impossible – e.g., the parents have committed a crime, have been arrested, or are in hospital (the list of grounds is clearly and strictly defined) – temporary measures shall be taken to protect the children. The main one is to transfer their children to the care of their blood relatives and friends of the family. And only when it is impossible – to temporary place them in a state-run home.
- It revises the previously ill-defined list of cases where children can be judged to “have lost parental care.” It removes the elastic anti-family language, making the Code clear and unambiguous. Arbitrarily claiming that the child “has lost parental care” when their parents are near and have done nothing wrong will become impossible.
- Guardianship authorities (Russian CPS) shall be prohibited from entering homes in order to check whether the child has lost parental care without the consent of those who live in it. Guardianship authorities will no longer be able to “raid” homes to investigate tip-offs.
- If the parents are not deprived of parental rights or limited in them, after the cessation of circumstances that did not allow them to take care of the child the child shall be returned to them immediately. If other people are holding the child not on the basis of law or a court decision, the police shall help parents return them.
- It guarantees the right of parents to involve relatives in the upbringing of their children without any special paperwork. All the situations where the authorities could snatch a child taken for a walk by their grandmother because of “neglect” will become a thing of the past.
- It establishes the real priority of blood relatives when adopting or transferring children who have lost parental care under guardianship. The police shall be obliged to search for existing blood relatives, so this is not an empty phrase.
- And finally, the bill clearly prohibits same-sex or “transgender” “marriages.” And it prohibits giving up children for upbringing to same-sex (or “transgender”) couples.
After years of “revolution” staged by the anti-family lobby, this is a real “counter-revolution” in family law.
If the “Seven Senators’ Bill” is passed, it will be a real breakthrough in protecting the family from illegal actions of CPS and, in general, from violent destruction. Parents will no longer be afraid that their children will be taken away from them for no real reason. They won’t have to shudder when they hear the name “guardianship authorities” (CPS).
But a serious struggle awaits us. It is clear that this bill is a real threat to the anti-family lobby and to representatives of all those radical ideologies that hate the natural family with its fundamental inalienable rights.
Representatives of “LGBT” activists, as well as fighters for “special rights” for transgender people, have already attacked the bill. They were supported by the deputy of the State Duma (lower chamber of the Russian Parliament) Oksana Pushkina, who had been promoting the feminist law “On Prevention of Domestic Violence” (popularly called the “Law on Violence Against the Family”). It comes as no surprise that the feminist lobby and its friends are dissatisfied with any attempt at real protection of the family and marriage.
But one can hope that the authorities will not listen to anti-family radicals. Indeed, during the discussion of amendments to the Constitution they were already convinced that the topic of protecting the family and family values is very important for most citizens of Russia.
Supporting the “Seven Senators’ Bill” and preventing sneaky lobbyists from spoiling it with anti-family amendments is a task that Russian citizens themselves will try to solve together with the help and support of Russian pro-family organizations.