Children's book with gay couple published with 18+ label in Russia

Children’s picture book about families with same-sex parents has been published in Russia to challenge the country’s LGBT+ propaganda law – one month after a Hungarian bookshop was fined £600 for selling a copy of the same story

  • Author Lawrence Schimel and illustrator Elīna Brasliņa published children’s book
  • Was published with an 18+ label on it in Russia due to anti ‘gay propaganda’ laws
  • The book tells stories of a boy and a girl living with same-sex parents 

A children’s picture book which aims to normalise families with same-sex parents has been published with an 18+ content warning in Russia as part of a campaign to challenge the country’s LGBT+ propaganda law. 

The book, titled Mothers, Fathers and Kids from Dusk till Dawn in Russia, was published with the mature content label because of the country’s so-called ‘gay propaganda laws,’ which bans content promoting the gay life style. 

It is published as two titles in English – Early One Morning – which follows a boy’s morning with his two mothers; and Bedtime, Not Playtime!, which focuses on a girl with two fathers at nighttime – while Russia’s version combines the two. 

It comes after a Hungarian bookshop was fined £600 for selling a copy of the same picture book, the Guardian reported. 

A translation of American author Lawrence Schimel’s Bedtime not Playtime and Early One Morning, which follows the story of a child with same-sex parents, has been published in Russia with a 18+ label

In each book, the story follows the child of a same sex couple, either as they wake up and get ready for the day or prepare to go to bed. 

It aims to normalise the idea of having ‘two daddies’ or ‘two mums’ by showing happy and healthy children and family environment.   

The book was published in Russia by the LGBT+ charity Sphere, who decided to go ahead after publishing houses in Russia refused due to the country’s laws banning LGBT+ material. 

‘[This] is a book that is not only about LGBTQ+ families, but for them. In that sense, this book stands on its own as the very first of its kind in Russia,’ the organisation told the Guardian. 

A library in Hungary was fined £600 for publishing the book last month. Now, the charity Sphere is using the book to draw attention to Russia’s anti-LGBT propaganda laws (pictured: an illustration from the book)

They went on to say how the law required them to publish the children’s book with an 18+ label. 

‘In other words, because of the existing legislature there was no other choice but to publish a children’s book for adults only…This is the ridiculousness of the propaganda law, which only raises discrimination against LGBT+ and limits access to information,’ they added. 

Sphere has since launched a petition to see the law repelled in Russia, which has already gathered over 60,000 signatures. 

In a statement to the publication, the charity said: ‘This law does not protect anyone from anything. Rather, it acts as an instrument of 1) limiting access to information, and 2) legitimisation of discrimination in the forms of homophobia and transphobia in the society – all while real families, with real children, are suffering from it.’

Author Lawrence Schimel said he opposed Russia’s LGBT+ laws, adding he feels his book is important to show that families like this existed around the world 

Author and illustrator Schimel and Brasliņa both said they opposed the laws in Russia and were ‘delighted’ to donate the book to help Sphere’s campaign. 

The American author, who says the book should be read so that a whole generation doesn’t grow up under the coupe of political homophobia, went on to say that hate had no place in the diverse world in which we live.

He added that such anti-LGBT+ laws do not protect children and that the gay lifestyle is not something anyone needs protecting from. 

Schimel also said that it’s important for children who might be discovering their LGBT+ identity to see the book, while noting that all children should know families like those he wrote about in the book exist. 

In total, Sphere has published 500 copies of the book, which have been sent to regional LGBT+ charities around Russia as well as influencers. 

The book has already been published in five languages, with Sphere predicting more editions will become available by the end of 2022

The charity said the publishing process had not been easy and that the group had feared some government interference to prevent the book’s publication.  

The book will not be sold, but instead be handed to activists in order to give more representation to LGBT+ families  

Both Early One Morning and Bedtime not Playtime have been published in English, Spanish, French, German and Italian. 

Sphere said that it would be available in 24 languages and in 30 editions worldwide by the end of 2022.   

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