Psychologist Leaves St. Petersburg University After Pressure from Anti-LGBT Group

St. Petersburg State Pediatric Medical University's school logo. Edited by Kevin Rothrock.

St. Petersburg State Pediatric Medical University's school logo. Edited by Kevin Rothrock.

The St. Petersburg State Pediatric Medical University has dissolved a medical board legally charged with granting permission for sex-change operations to patients over 21 years old, and apparently fired Dmitry Isaev, the doctor who headed the commission. Isaev, a noted scholar who headed the school’s department of clinical psychology, came under attack by an anti-gay group known as Moscow Is Not Sodom and St. Petersburg Is Not Gommorah! after granting an interview to the LGBT youth community Children-404.

On May 14, Isaev participated in an ask-me-anything style interview with Lena Klimova’s LGBT youth group Children-404, where he answered different questions about issues ranging from Russian laws cracking down on the LGBT community to best parenting practices when a child is gay.

Two weeks later, Moscow Is Not Sodom organized a letter-writing campaign against Isaev, accusing him of being a mentally ill former criminal, claiming that he “almost never” rejects requests by supposed transgender individuals for sex changes, unlike “traditional psychiatrists in this position.” The group encouraged followers to send complaints to the St. Petersburg district attorney’s office, asking police to review his work as a teacher and as head of the medical board granting permission for sex changes.

On July 10, rumors started spreading online that the university had buckled under the pressure of the anti-gay campaign, firing Isaev and disbanding the commission. On July 16, Isaev confirmed to the media that his tenure at the university has ended, though he declined to elaborate on the reasons, citing the school’s wishes. In the past, Isaev indicated that the university’s management struggled to respond to the influx of complaints and phone calls.

This was not the first time Isaev granted an interview to Children-404. More than two years ago, he spoke at length to the group, criticizing Russia’s rising culture of “intolerance” and generally retrograde understanding of the LGBT community. Isaev also stressed that homosexuality and other sexual orientations are naturally occurring and not to be dismissed as lifestyle choices.

Writing on VKontakte, Russia’s most popular online social network, Children-404 founder Lena Klimova lamented Isaev’s dismissal, saying, “I thought this would be impossible. It turns out that no one is safe.”

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