A LGBT staff activist at Aeroflot, Russia’s largest airline, Maxim Kupreev, was forced by his employer to enter into a sham marriage to a woman, requiring her to divorce her own husband to do so. Russian activists are calling for airline passengers to make alternative arrangements and boycott Aeroflot for its disturbing violation of employee human rights.

Gay activists in Russia are planning to ask air passengers to boycott Aeroflot, Russia’s leading airline and not to use its services until the creation of equal conditions for all workers.

The call comes following the revelation that gay flight attendant Maxim Kupreev was forced by his employers to enter into heterosexual marriage with his former high school girlfriend following his announcement last year to create an LGBT group within the company to fight for the protection of the rights of homosexual employees.

LGBT activism is routinely suppressed in Russia and activists are badly treated by the government, but this expansion of the government’s repression of human rights is disturbing.

According to internal Aeroflot sources reported by GayRussia.eu, 25-year-old flight attendant Maxim 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,’ Alekseev said.

So much for the sanctity of the marital bond.

This fight in Aeroflot has gone on since June.

In July 2011 gay activists tried to picket the central office of Aeroflot in support of the first lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender group in the major Russian company and to denounce the pressure on its founders.

But the Moscow authorities banned the event over ‘security concerns’. And the organisers of the picket, who planned to defy the ban, cancelled the event at the request of Kupreev.

Both the Taganskiy District Court and the Moscow City Court later ruled that the ban was lawful. This decision last year is expected to be appealed to the European Court of Human Rights.

Aeroflot is in an “alliance” with Delta so if your overseas travel plans originate with Delta you may voice your concerns to them should you decide to join the boycott that begins on February 9.

On Friday (27 January) Moscow Pride activists officially notified Moscow Mayor Sergey Sobyanin about their intention to conduct a rally on 9 February, the 89th anniversary of the creation of civil aviation in Russia and birthday of Aeroflot.

They plan to condemn discrimination policy of the state owned airline against homosexual workers and will demand dismissal of Aeroflot from the global airline alliance, Sky Team, which is led by Air France-KLM and includes American carrier Delta.