Putin: It is a fictional idea that Russia is anti-gay – we don’t execute gays

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has addressed international controversy surrounding his country’s recently introduced anti-gay law, to say that because the country does not execute gay people, it is “fictional” that gay people are oppressed.

Speaking to journalists following Russian-Austrian talks this week in Vienna, Putin addressed controversies surrounding the bill he signed into law last June, which bans the “promotion of non-traditional sexual relations” to minors.

The new law was seen as a broader crackdown on LGBT people in Russia.

He said: “I would like to note that despite certain stereotypes that exist regarding Russia, including on the so-called issues of sex minorities, to a large extent this is a fictional idea. I would like to remind you that, unlike some other states, Russia does not have criminal prosecution for homosexuality and other types unconventional sexual behaviour. We do not have criminal sanctions against this, while in other countries, including some very big ones that consider themselves democratic states, such a criminal offence is enshrined in law. Just as the death penalty, which, as opposed to many other countries, Russia does not have and does not apply.

“Nevertheless, we agree that we have to think of the future and improve our legislation… we will definitely stay in touch on these issues.”

According to Matthew Schmidt, a Russian specialist at the University of Connecticut who was monitoring Ukrainian elections, Putin in May positioned himself as the “defender of traditional values”, going so far as to label his opponents “gay Nazis”.

In February, he said the Sochi Winter Olympics were “not the place” to debate the country’s treatment of gay rights.