Maxim Kupreev is a 25-year-old flight attendant employed by Aeroflot, Russia's largest airline. In order to change the prevailing anti-gay atmosphere in his workplace, Kupreev decided to organize a group of LGBT Aeroflot employees. In response, his bosses commanded him: Marry a woman or you're fired.
The creation of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender group in Aeroflot was announced on 20 June 2011. At this time, Kupreev, the founder of the group said it would fight for the direct inclusion of discrimination ban on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity into internal documents of Aeroflot. His group also planned to fight for the recognition of same-sex partners of the employees.
The next day the official spokesperson of the airline, Irina Dannenberg, told the French news agency AFP that there was no LGBT group in her company. According to her, ‘one should separate personal and professional life,’ AFP reported.
Kupreev was given an ultimatum late last year to enter into heterosexual marriage or to lose his job. At the end of 2011 he married his school friend Sofia Mikhailova who got the right to fly Aeroflot for 10% of the fare – and other company privileges.
In order to register marriage with Kupreev, Mikhailova had to dissolve her real marriage to Grigoriy Andreykin. The divorce was finalised on 11 October last year.
‘Aeroflot effectively broke a real marriage and created a sham one,’ [said Nikolai Alekseev, founder of Moscow Pride.]
Alekseev and other Russian activists have organized a boycott of Aeroflot, which shall begin on February 9th at a protest outside Aeroflot's Moscow offices.