Russian man refused job over 'gay looks'

By Sherie Ryder and Ksenia Idrisova
BBC News

Image source, Getty Images
Image caption,
Russian LGBT activists have campaigned against controversial gay propaganda laws

A sports nutrition store has been a hot topic on Russian social media and LBGT forums over its feedback to an unsuccessful job applicant.

Eduard Myra from Omsk, applied for a position as sales assistant at LLC Hardcore earlier this year but was unsuccessful. When he asked for feedback, he was sent a letter explaining his "feminine manner" and being "too well-groomed" suggested he was part of the LGBT community and his appearance promoted "non-traditional sexual relations".

The letter from the company's HR manager, featured in Omskinform website, claimed Mr Myra's "feminine manner of speaking and gestures, as well as appearance (too well-groomed and flamboyant clothes) create an impression that you are a sexual minority person who, by his behaviour and appearance, is propagating non-traditional sexual relations.''

In response, Mr Myra told Meduza news website: ''I don't know how I can be propagating anything. My clothes are reserved. The only thing that could probably confuse somebody is that my ear is pierced.''

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The store says its decision was based on Russia's so-called gay propaganda law, which bans the "promotion of homosexuality" to minors. The controversial law, deemed discriminatory by the European Court of Human Rights, has sparked a lot of criticism from rights activist both in Russia and abroad.

Mr Myra took legal action against the store, asking for 50,000 roubles (£642) but the Pervomaisky District Court in Omsk ruled the shop award him the compensation of 30,000 roubles.

Image source, Rossiya24
Image caption,
Mr Myra was awarded 30,000 rubles by an Omsk court after he took legal action against the sports store

Hardcore store director Andrey Chistyakov did not think he was in the wrong and told liberal newspaper Novaya Gazeta he couldn't guarantee how sportsmen would react when they saw him:

''Our customers are tough guys. If they see [that he is gay] they could be hostile towards him. I wasn't only concerned about the image of the store, I was concerned about this man's health.''

Social media reaction has been mixed after the story was posted on social network VKontakte (VK).

According to the Russian LGBT network, Mr Myra was asked questions relating to his appearance, not his experience and was told his application was declined because he looked and acted gay.

On Twitter, NapoleonTort felt: "The good thing is that a precedent has been set. And a stupid shop owner has paid for his ignorance!"

Image source, Omskinform
Image caption,
The letter reportedly sent from the company's HR manager to Mr Myra, posted on the Omskinform website

Several people responded on Facebook:

Dmitry Samoylenko wrote: "Congratulations! This is one of the first steps to recognise LGBT in Russia!"

Dann Borodin added: "The shop management has exposed itself in writing. Thus, the court simply had no other choice than to uphold the claim, at least partially. Idiots."

The LGBT community page on VK had many messages of support for Myra, such as from Mark Alexandrov: "Perhaps in another country, the compensation would have been millions, not thousands. Or even the shop would lose its licence for refusing to hire a person because of a manager's personal preference."

Not everyone agreed, with some resorting to sarcasm:

"Can it really be that somewhere in Russia justice has won? Omg," Lilya Gubadulina said on VK.

"In Russia? Wow! I guess it must have been a mistake," added Evgenia Frost.

And Vlada Brishchenko does not blame the company: "I can understand the shop owner too. It's not their fault that the majority of Russians are not tolerant. Why would they risk their reputation when almost the whole country does not accept such people and treats them with disrespect?"

By the BBC UGC Social News team; Additional reporting by Ksenia Idrisova, BBC Monitoring

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