Today on ABC’s This Week with George Stephanopoulos, Russian President Vladimir Putin defended Russia’s anti-LGBT law, saying gays and lesbians are not discriminated against in Russia and the law is aimed at protecting children. Despite Putin’s claim the law does not discriminate, just yesterday a protester was detained for unfurling a rainbow flag during the Olympic Torch relay. Violence against LGBT Russians has also been on the rise since the anti-gay law was passed last June.
“President Putin’s public interpretation of the country’s anti-LGBT law is beyond comprehension,” said HRC President Chad Griffin. “This law was designed to do nothing less than secure second class status for LGBT Russians and visitors. It does nothing to protect children, but goes great lengths to harm families.”
Putin told Stephanopoulos athletes who protest or wear a rainbow pin will not be prosecuted under the law, noting there is a small difference between protesting the law and violating it. His statements today contradict those of government officials who last year said visitors are not exempt from the law. Under the law foreigners can not only be fined, but also face arrest and up to 15 days in jail, followed by eventual deportation.
Putin also compared the country’s anti-LGBT law with those of some U.S. states, saying laws are still on the books criminalizing homosexuality. Stephanopoulos promptly corrected the Russian President, explaining to him the Supreme Court struck down those laws.
“Americans, and the citizens of the world are against archaic and dangerous laws that single out a group of people,” Griffin added. “The blatant lie that gays and lesbians are not discriminated against at all in Russia only serves to undermine Putin’s credibility around the globe.”
Last year, the law banning "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" was passed by Russia’s Federal Assembly and signed into law by President Vladimir Putin. Under the guise of protecting children from "homosexual propaganda," the law imposes fines or jail time on citizens who disseminate information that may cause a "distorted understanding" that LGBT and heterosexual relationships are "socially equivalent." The fines are significantly higher if such information is distributed through the media or Internet.