A lesbian couple from Russia have married in Toronto, Canada, where gay marriage is legal.
Irina Fedotova-Fet and Irina Shipitko were married by Harvey Brownstone, a well-known openly gay judge, and will return to Russia this week to try to force authorities to recognise their union.
Gay marriage is currently illegal in Russia. They attempted to marry in the country in May but were turned away from their local registry office.
On October 6th, the Tverskoi District Court ruled that they could not marry as Russian law states marriage is between a man and a woman.
They now hope to exploit a loophole in Russian law which does not specify the gender of those married abroad.
Russian gay rights campaigner Nikolai Alekseev, who is their lawyer, told GayRussia.ru: “We are delighted with the warm welcome in this wonderful country and in this stunning city of Toronto. Even though it is not my marriage, this is a day I will hardly forget. We are grateful to the Canadian LGBT organisation EGALE for helping us in organising the wedding of our Irinas in Toronto”.
He added: “Many in Russia, including in the LGBT community, think that same sex marriage is impossible but the fight for marriage equality in Russia today is an investment in a democratic and free future of the country. We know that we will get it one day and this is the reason why we have to start now”.
“I salute the courage of Irina and Irina who are showing today that there are no barriers to love. They give a great message of hope.”
Speaking at a press conference before their ceremony, the couple said: “This is only the beginning of a long journey of recognition of family rights for same-sex couples in Russia.
“We get a lot of mails and messages of congratulations from gays and lesbians in Russia who also want to have their union recognised but most of them are not able to fight for their rights. We are confident that our struggle will soon benefit them”.
They are expected to return to Russia this week and have said they are willing to take their case to the European Court of Human Rights.