Vladimir Putin has denied that a Russian law criminalizing "gay propaganda" is discriminatory, explaining that, even though it is now illegal to discuss gay rights or positive portrayals of LGBTQ people with minors, LGBTQ Russians continue to have "normal relations" in the country.
"I work with these [gay] people, I sometimes award them with state prizes or decorations for their achievements in various fields," Putin said in an interview with the Associated Press and Russia's state Channel 1 television. "We have absolutely normal relations, and I don't see anything out of the ordinary here."
To further establish his not-homophobic bona fides, Putin went on to praise Tchaikovsky, the 19th century Russian composer who is widely believed to have been gay. But then, perhaps thinking better of his unqualified endorsement of the maybe-gay Tchaikovsky, Putin added, "Truth be told, we don't love him because of that, but he was a great musician and we all love his music."
After putting his critics utterly at ease with his completely believable claims about not discriminating against gay people, Putin went on to explain that the Russian ban won't negatively impact LGBTQ athletes during the 2014 Sochi Olympics, even though he has banned any gay pride demonstrations during the Winter Games.