Anti-LGBTQ Russian president Vladimir Putin has issued a harsh rebuke of LGBTQ rights, including calling efforts to teach children about gender identity a “crime against humanity.”
In an address last week, Putin said his country needed to stick to its “spiritual values and historical traditions” and avoid the “sociocultural disturbances” of Western nations, the Washington Post reports.
Putin said it was appalling that children are “taught that a boy can become a girl and vice versa,” calling it “on the verge of a crime against humanity.”
He also claimed that those who support transgender rights are seeking to remove “basic things such as mother, father, family or gender differences.”
Putin has overseen a growing intolerance of and antagonism towards LGBTQ people in Russia during his time in office. Earlier this month, Russia’s media regulator said it might rebrand LGBTQ organizations as “extremist” in order to “untie” the hands of police, allowing them to target LGBTQ activists.
LGBTQ advocates point to worsening conditions in Russia since lawmakers passed the infamous “gay propaganda” law in 2013, which banned exposing minors to “nontraditional relationships.”
It has been used by the government to try and remove a gay couple’s children, ban Pride marches, arrest a teenager who shared photos of half-naked men, and delete gay scenes from Elton John biopic Rocketman.
The ban has been internationally condemned for discriminating against LGBTQ people, and the European Court of Human Rights has twice ruled that the propaganda ban violates the rights of LGBTQ people and LGBTQ organizations.
In 2019, the ECHR ordered the Russian government to pay damages to three LGBTQ groups, after they were denied permission to register as associations because of the anti-gay “propaganda” law.
Last year, Russian voters approved a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. That vote came after a poll found that 1 in 5 Russians believed that LGBTQ people should be “eliminated” from society.
It also came after Putin said that same-sex marriage “will not happen” in Russia while he is the country’s president.
“As far as ‘parent number 1’ and ‘parent number 2’ goes, I’ve already spoken publicly about this and I’ll repeat it again: As long as I’m president this will not happen. There will be dad and mum,” Putin said at the time.
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