(Reuters) – A Russian family who fled their country after receiving homophobic messages, and death threats online for appearing in a supermarket advert, say their ordeal was worthwhile because it helped raise the profile, if briefly, of the LGBT+ community.
Yuma Yuma, a 49-year-old psychologist, who has a female partner, appeared with her two adult daughters, Mila and Alina, and Alina’s fiancée, in a promotional article on the website of food retailer, Vkusvill. It pictured the women in a kitchen, saying they liked the shop’s food.
“Judging by what people write to me or tell me, the image they saw of our family gave them hope. And hope, in our situation, is very important,” Yuma told Reuters in Spain, where the family plan to apply for asylum.
Yuma, her two daughters, and her 8-year-old granddaughter, left Moscow in early August, after receiving messages online including threats to rape and kill them. One featured a picture of a bloodied axe, and their home address was also published online, they said.
They are now living in a flat outside Barcelona, lent to them by a supporter for a month.
The advert did not reference their sexuality, but anti-gay groups called for an investigation, and a boycott of Vkusvill. The company initially defended the article, but later deleted it from its website, and issued an apology. The article had initially appeared with an ’18+’ warning, indicating it should not be read by children.
A 2013 Russian law, decried by Western countries, bans the “promotion of non-traditional sexual relations to minors”.
Last year, the government defined marriage in the constitution as being solely between a man and a woman.
Mila, who used to work as a manager for an online education company, said the advert had broken new ground in Russia.
“This ad is a huge success even if it brought problems to us,” she said.
“When we showed that we are a family, a real big family, with children, wife, dogs and cats … we show that LGBT people can be a normal family, a good neighbour.”
Writing by Andrei Khalip