Gay Russian shares terrifying ordeal of being hospitalised by his own family, drugged and tortured – all because of his sexuality
A gay Russian has spoken out about the years of investigations, hospitalisations and harassment he endured at the hands of his family after they learned of his sexuality.
Speaking to Open Democracy, Egor Panin recalled being outed by his mother at the age of 17 when she read his conversations on the social media platform VKontakte. Soon after this the beatings began, and Panin was prescribed various tablets and injections to make him “a normal person”.
He ran away from home in 2015 but was coaxed out of hiding by an officer of Russia’s Investigative Committee posing as a gay man online. Egor was intercepted at a fast-food restaurant, where uniformed officers restrained him and threw him into the back of a black 4×4.
When he was released back into his family’s custody he overheard his mother arranging to have him treated in hospital. He ran away twice more but was captured each time, and finally his mother got her wish: Panin was transferred to a psychiatric facility.
“There were medics and doctors, and mum’s going on about ‘homosexual tendencies’ and ‘imaginary friends’,” he said. “At first I thought, ‘What the hell?’ And then I realised that’s it, I’m not getting out of here.”
Panin’s friends rallied in his defence, pleading with journalists and LGBT+ activists to have him released, but it was no good. His mother blocked a human rights lawyer from visiting him; then, she muddied the water by telling Russian news outlets that her son had been rescued from “gay slavery” in Moscow.
Terrifyingly, multiple news reports “confirmed” her story, claiming that the teen had been repeatedly raped, forced to wear women’s clothing and take feminising hormones, and that it was only thanks to the efforts of his mother that he was torn from the grasp of the paedophiles.
I was pushed to the point of breaking down in fits, saliva going everywhere, I couldn’t understand who or where I was.
As the scandal broke Panin was pressured to give an interview about his ordeal, but when he spoke to correspondents he claims they cut any mention he made of being held against his will.
Then doctors prescribed a medication that made him “like a vegetable”, and only agreed to release him when he signed a document stating that he agreed with his hospitalisation.
“I was pushed to the point of breaking down in fits, saliva going everywhere, I couldn’t understand who or where I was,” he remembers.
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Months later, Panin attempted to put the hospitalisation behind him and moved to his brother’s in Moscow to study law – but his mother wasn’t done with him. She opened a new criminal case against him and he was once again brought in for questioning.
He desperately tried to tell officers his mother’s story was a lie, that he was never kidnapped by gay paedophiles, but she’d already told them he was schizophrenic and needed medical help. The teen was made to sign a statement acknowledging himself as the victim of a crime, after which officials refused to listen to his version of events.
In the years that followed Panin made several more escape attempts, each time being recaptured by the Investigative Committee for another traumatic round of questioning as authorities tried to force him to reveal evidence of the story his mother fabricated.
With help from the advocacy group Russia Behind Bars, Panin is now back in hiding and has finally managed to have his mother removed as his legal guardian. But his ordeal is far from over: the Investigative Committee is refusing to close the criminal case, regardless of the lack of evidence.
Egor Panin’s harrowing story can be read in full here.