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Russia: HIV-Infected Individuals Cannot Adopt Children

(Nov. 6, 2014) On September 23, 2014, the Supreme Court of the Russian Federation upheld the legality of the list of illnesses that prohibit individuals from adopting children, establishing guardianship, or forming a foster family. (Supreme Court of the Russian Federation, Docket case AKPI 14-890 [in Russian], Supreme Court website (Sept. 23, 2014).) The List includes tuberculosis, drug addiction, mental illnesses, and numerous infectious diseases. It was approved by the Cabinet of Ministers of the Russian Federation in 2013. (Government Regulation No. 117 [in Russian] (Feb. 14, 2013) PRAVO.GOV.RU.)

The case was initiated by an HIV-positive plaintiff who wanted to adopt an orphan. He stated that the existing ban contradicts Russian laws currently in force on health care and HIV prevention and claimed that Russian law prohibits discrimination against HIV-infected individuals. His attorney tried to convince the Court that there is no threat to the health of others if basic hygienic and sanitary requirements are met. Additionally, according to the plaintiff, current medical advancements allow HIV-positive people to live long and productive lives, sharing parental love with adopted children. (Russian Supreme Court Confirmed the Legality of Child Adoption Ban for HIV-Infected Individuals [in Russian], NEWSRU.COM (Sept. 23, 2014).)

The government was represented by the state attorney and by Ministry of Health Care officials, who opposed the plaintiff’s position, stating that it is unpredictable how the virus will develop, and no one will be able to take care of an adopted child if the health of the HIV-infected parent worsens. The government position was that lifting of the ban would affect not just the relatively healthy plaintiff, but also other ill people with much worse health situations. Reportedly, about one million Russian citizens have been diagnosed with HIV or AIDS. (Id.)