Vladimir Putin condemns ‘barbaric’ Orlando gay club massacre

Vladimir Putin

Russian President Vladimir Putin has sent his condolences to those affected by the Orlando massacre.

At least 49 people were killed and 53 were injured in the shooting at the Pulse gay club in Orlando over the weekend.

With more than a hundred now confirmed dead or injured, the shooting is the worst in American history.

A number of world leaders have expressed condolences, from the Queen to Canadian PM Justin Trudeau – as well as the United Nations Security Council, Germany’s Angela Merkel, French President François Hollande, and South Africa’s Jacob Zuma.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has also expressed his condolences in a telegram to President Obama – perhaps surprisingly, given the shooting took place in a gay club.

The Kremlin confirmed: “In a telegram with condolences, the head of the Russian state stressed that Russia shares pain and sorrow of those who lost their near and dear ones as a result of this barbaric crime and hopes for a speedy recovery of those wounded.”

Though the Kremlin’s short confirmation does not specifically mention the homophobic nature of the crime, the text of the full telegram has not been released.

Putin is often hostile to Russia’s own LGBT community, signing the country’s ‘gay propaganda’ law back in 2013.

A Russian gay couple were detained yesterday while laying flowers outside the US embassy – likely for carrying a pro-LGBT ‘Love Wins’ sign.

However, Putin has sought to play down his anti-LGBT image on the global stage, suggesting in a recent interview that Russia’s issues have been “deliberately exaggerated”.

He said: “The problem of sexual minorities in Russia has been deliberately exaggerated from the outside for political reasons, I believe, without any good basis.

“People of non-traditional sexual orientation work, they live in peace, they get promoted, they get state awards for their achievements in science and arts or other areas. I personally have awarded them medals, but we have a ban on gay propaganda. I don’t see anything un-democratic in that.”

Citing the fact that a number of US states keep defunct sodomy laws on their books, he said: “It’s well known that in four states in America, homosexual orientation is a crime, whether it’s good or bad we don’t know.

“We know there is the ruling of the Supreme Court, but this problem has not completely disappeared, it’s not completely removed from American legislation, but we don’t have that.

“I definitely condemn that. I believe there should not be any criminal prosecution or any other prosecution of infringement of those rights, on the basis of sexual orientation. We don’t have that… we’ve abolished all of that.”

All US sodomy laws were rendered unenforceable back in 2003.

Defending Russia’s ‘gay propaganda’ law, he said: “I believe we should leave kids in peace. We should give them a chance to grow, help them to realise who they are and decide for themselves.

“Do they consider themselves a man or a woman? A female? A male? Do they want to live in a normal, natural marriage or a non-traditional one? That’s the only thing I wanted to talk about. I don’t see here any infringement on the rights of gay people.”