Russian Anti-Gay Law Forces Teens To Communicate “In Secret”

To a vast majority of Russians, "Deti-404" is an error message displayed on their computer screens when they attempt to navigate to a web page that doesn't exist. To LGBT activist Lena Klimova, however, and to the very small group of teens that she works to help, the name represents an incognito, underground group designed to help them navigate the difficulties of growing up gay in such a fiercely anti-gay climate. 

Virtually anyone who has taken a glance at news headlines recently is at least somewhat familiar with the current human rights atrocities being committed by the Russian government and by Russian citizens. It should come as no surprise, then, that after Klimova wrote an article advocating on behalf of LGBT teens in Russia, she received a letter from a 15 year old in desperate need. The teen, identified as "Nadya" by the UK's The Guardian, was on the verge of suicide when she read Klimova's article. Luckily, that article provided Nadya with the courage she needed to keep on living. It didn't take long for Klimova to realize that there were likely many more out there just like Nadya who needed her help. Deti-404 followed shortly therafter…

"When she set up the group, Klimova surveyed 115 LGBT teenagers all over Russia, creating a closed forum for the teens to interact. Her survey showed that a number had thought of suicide. Fewer than half had come out to their parents. 'It is only on the internet that they can find somebody to speak to,' she said. 'The feeling that most of these children feel is constant fear'…When a teenager gets in touch, if necessary Klimova helps them speak to a sensitive psychologist. 'I tell practically all of them that they are needed, unique and invaluable. I am not pretending. It is true,' she said."

Russia-police-gay-protesters-700x380According to The Guardian, most of the teens who utilize "Deti-404" are from small towns, and come from families that frequently express vitriolic and violent hatred towards LGBT people. One group member, "Svetlana", describes, on the site, that her mother "calls homosexuals – and that means me too – mutants," and that her father has repeatedly expressed the desire to hunt gay people down with his gun. 

While Russia's newly-adopted, anti-gay laws have sparked heated controversy across the world, situations don't at all seem to be improving for LGBT people living within Russia's borders. Just this weekend, one popular Russian TV official expressed his desire to burn and bury the hearts of gay people on national television. Klimova is not particularly convinced that a boycott of the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi will prove effective at addressing these sorts of atrocities. Rather, she asks that "sportsmen…go to the opening ceremony with a rainbow flag in support of Russian LGBT. It would be very valuable."


  1. ratbastard says

    Said it before, I’ll say it again: 70 plus years of Marxism, communism, Stalinism, oppression of thought, free assembly, economic stagnation, the brutal world wars, the Czars that ruled before the communist, all have taken their toll on Russia and the Russian mentality. Russians born post late 1980s don’t even have any memory of the USSR, communism, etc., but whether they realize it or not, their society and country has been and still is deeply affected by what I mentioned above. Their country and society hasn’t been allowed to grow in a healthy way such as Western European and North American society. And now they must deal with their oligarchs, Putin, the duplicitous orthodox church. It’s going to take a long, long time.

    In some ways what Putin is doing is really quite clever from a propaganda standpoint. He’s acting in a way many on the far right in the U.S. and elsewhere would love to see their country’s leaders act. He knows [I think] that there’s a considerable minority of people [and probably also knows most people everywhere are apathetic] in The West who’re also anti-gay, and his actions and those of his government appeal to them. He also knows they appeal to the orthodox church, which he needs to maintain his power.

  2. m says

    The sad conditions for LGBT people in Russia isn’t much of a surprise when considering Russia’s roots and that its still being run by an ex-KGB director. Even with the world watching and the hyper-connected instant nature of the internet Putin is defiant and arrogant bully.

  3. m says

    The sad conditions for LGBT people in Russia isn’t much of a surprise when considering Russia’s roots and that its still being run by an ex-KGB director. Even with the world watching and the hyper-connected instant nature of the internet Putin is defiant and arrogant bully.

  4. says

    It’s not only a support group. “Deti” by the way means “children,” so that’s not what the error message says, but they’ve taken the 404 to show that they are something the state thinks do not exist.

    Sometimes they show their faces with a sign “Children 404 — we exist!”

    It’s a direct challenge to the new law, which assumes there are no gay kids, which is why you have to protect them from any information about homosexuality. But Klimova’s project is wonderful. They also have live chats with adult experts and activists for the kids to ask questions.

  5. BobN says

    Yeah, Ratbastard, everyone knows that Russians were just the nicest people in the world before that nasty Revolution. Just ask any Jew.

  6. ratbastard says


    The Czars were bad, the commies and Marxist also were responsible for murdering MILLIONS and MILLIONS of people. Tens of millions. That revolution and the people who were responsible for it did NOTHING but enslave and retard the Russian people [and Ukrainians, and other eastern Europeans] and eastern European societies for a half century or more in the case of Russia and the old USSR territory.

  7. Bill says

    Marxism wasn’t the problem – it was the “modifications” introduced by Lenin (to a more limited extent) and Stalin (to a more significant extent). Marx had once written an article warning about Russian imperialism and thought communism would arise in the more developed countries first (at the time Russia was considered rather backward).

    Karl Marx objected to the way workers were being treated in the 1800s, and the way they were treated was pretty bad by today’s standards. Marx’s main failing was in coming up with a solution to the problem that didn’t work very well, but that is no surprise given that his attempt to figure out how to fix the problem was an early one. Sometimes it takes a few tries before you find something that works.