LGBT family that fled Russia says advert brought more hope than hatred

by Reuters
Tuesday, 24 August 2021 10:23 GMT

(R-L) Yuma Yuma, 49, and her daughters Mila, 23, and Aline, 29, hold a tablet showing a picture where they posed for the ad published in supermarket chain VkusVill in Russia. They showed it during an interview with Reuters TV on the Mediterranean coast near Barcelona, Spain, August 19, 2021. Picture taken August 19, 2021. REUTERS/Nacho Doce NO RESALES. NO ARCHIVES

Image Caption and Rights Information
Yuma, Alina and Mila Yuma fled Russia after receiving threats for appearing in an advert for supermarket Vkusvill, which was taken down following homophobic abuse

By Horaci Garcia Marti and Nacho Doce

BARCELONA, Aug 24 (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.

Milolika, 8, her grandmother Yuma Yuma (2nd L), 49, the girl's mother Aline, 29, and her aunt Mila (L), 23, are pictured as the family walks towards their apartment on the Mediterranean coast near Barcelona, Spain, August 19, 2021. The family fled Russia after they received death threats following their appearance in an advertisement for the food chain VkusVill Picture taken August 19, 2021. REUTERS/Nacho Doce

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; Editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

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