Russian President Vladimir Putin defended a proposed ban to place severe restrictions on the rights of gays and lesbians this week, saying that the measure to limit the speech and free assembly of LGBT individuals in Russia is about "protecting children."
The "gay propaganda" ban would impose fines of up to 100,000 roubles (more than $3,000) on individuals found guilty of "promoting non-traditional relations to minors," a provision that is so broadly defined that it effectively turns being gay and out in Russia into a serious legal liability. (To say nothing of jeopardizing the safety of gays and lesbians in the country.)
Putin went on to call gays and lesbians in Russia "full-fledged members of our society" who are "not being discriminated against in any way.”
“It’s not about imposing some sort of sanctions on homosexuality," he continued. "It’s about protecting children from such information. Certain countries ... think that there is no need to protect [children] from this... But we are going to provide such protection the way that State Duma [parliamentary] lawmakers have decided."
The proposed ban passed the State Duma 436-0 earlier this month and was approved by the upper house of parliament, the Federation Council, on Wednesday. It is now on its way to Putin, who is expected to sign it.