Russia’s largest airline, Aeroflot, reportedly forced a gay flight attendant into a heterosexual marriage in order to keep his job. Maxim Kupreev, a 25 year old gay man, was given the ultimatum by Aeroflot to either marry a woman or lose his job. Kupreev married an old friend at the end of 2011 in a effort to please his employer.
The action against Kupreev seems to be motivated by his 2011 efforts to gain full employment benefits for LGBT Aeroflot employees, including a ban on discrimination and full recognition of same-sex partnerships. An Aeroflot spokeswoman told a French news source in the summer of 2011 that no pro-LGBT group of employees existed, even though Kupreev claims this was the time period he was trying to organize other employees. Aeroflot is a state operated airline, which may explain its anti-LGBT position. Russia notoriously discriminates against LGBT persons, even proposing legislation in November 2011 to fine LGBT persons who openly “profess their sexual orientation.”
Aeroflot is a member of SkyTeam, the world’s second largest airline alliance. Other SkyTeam members include AirFrance, China Airlines, and Delta Airlines. There has been no reports of comments by other SkyTeam members regarding Aeroflot’s discrimination against LGBT employees. Supporters of Kupreev plan to hold a public protest of the airline’s policies in Moscow, and plan to demand SkyTeam’s dismissal of Aeroflot. Moscow city officials will reply to the protester’s plans next week, but the protestors say they will hold a rally on February 9 regardless of whether the Moscow city government supports it.
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