A teenager has escaped from a rehab clinic after his traditionalist father locked him up after he came out to him aged 16.
Ivan Kharchenko, a Moscow teenager, spent 12 days in the Marshak rehab facility, supposedly used to treat drug addictions. He was released after 12 days of forced detention following a siege staged by his friends and supporters including by the Russian human rights campaigner Dmitry Aleshkovsky and State Duma Deputy (MP) Ilya Ponomaryov.
He was placed in the facility against his will after his paternal grandmother had tricked him into seeing a witch who attempted to exorcise the ‘spirit of homosexuality’ from him. When this route failed, his father turned to doctors and medication for help.
“I’d rather have you disabled or a vegetable than gay,” the father told the son according to local Ekho Moskvy radio.
Although the formal reason for his incarceration was alleged drug and alcohol abuse, his lawyer Violetta Volkova told Ekho Moskvy radio that there was no evidence of such behaviour. She said that he was so drugged by the facility that he forgot the names of his own friends.
The BBC Russian Service reports that he did manage to place a banner reading “I love you” addressed to his boyfriend out of his window at the facility.
The activists who freed him led by insist that his placement in the centre without his consent amounted to kidnapping. He is now in the care of his mother who is reported to have no objections to him being gay. Police will now investigate how he became to be hospitalised.
The Russian city St Petersberg has made it illegal to promote homosexuality through ‘propoganda’ legislation that appears to prevent organised gatherings of LGBT activists. It is expected that the law may one day become implemented nationwide.