Earlier today President Vladimir Putin once again denied that gay people face any discrimination in Russia, saying that a new law, which has drawn protests worldwide, does not infringe upon their rights. He was speaking at a conference in Valdai in northwestern Russia.
The law, which Putin signed earlier this year, imposes fines of up to 5,000 rubles ($150) for individuals and 1 million rubles ($30,000) for organizations suspected of promoting
“homosexual propaganda.” Foreigners who violate the law are also subject to fines, in addition to prison sentences of up to 15 days, deportation, and denial of re-entry into Russia.
Sounds like discrimination to us.
Still, Putin maintained that the law bans only “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors” and argued that it has “no infringement on the rights of sexual minorities.”
Putin also took the opportunity to discuss his concern for European population decline, which he attributes to more and more countries allowing gay marriage.
Said he: “Europeans are dying out … and gay marriages don’t produce children. Do you want to survive by accepting immigrants? Society can’t absorb such a number of immigrants. Let us make our own choice, as we see it for our country.”
But the icing on the cake came at the end of his speech when he made a joke about his friend, former Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi, who was convicted of paying for sex with an underage female then pressuring public officials to cover it up back in June.
“Berlusconi has faced a trial for living with women,” Putin teased. “[Prosecutors] wouldn’t touch him if he were gay.”
If Putin was hoping to smooth things over with the international community in time for the 2014 Winter Olympics, he’s still got a lot of work to do. But somehow we don’t think that was his intention today.