Power grab

Putin seeks to amend Russia’s constitution to ban same-sex marriage

A placard carrying the face of Vladimir Putin
(Photo: David Hudson)

Russian President Vladimir Putin wants to amend the Russian constitution to stipulate that marriage can only exist between one man and one woman.

Although same-sex unions are not legally recognized in Russia, amending the constitution would make it even more difficult for same-sex marriage to ever be legalized in the country.

Last month, Putin spoke out against same-sex marriage, saying he felt it his duty to stop it ever coming to Russia.

“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.”

Related: Vladimir Putin says he won’t allow for LGBTQ families or marriages in Russia

On that occasion, he was speaking with a state commission on potential future changes to Russia’s constitution. Those changes have now been revealed.

On Monday it was announced that Putin wants almost two dozen proposed constitutional amendments. These will go to a public vote on April 22. The changes have not yet been seen by the public, but politicians briefed journalists. Russian state news agency quoted Duma Vice-Speaker Pyotr Tolstoy on the same-sex marriage ban.

“For me, the most important proposal would fix the status of marriage as a union between a man and a woman,” he said.

Besides enshrining marriage as between a man and woman, the changes also include making it unconstitutional for Russia to give away any of its territory (the country’s been in dispute over Pacific islands it grabbed from Japan after World War II), and pay homage to “ancestors who bequeathed to us their ideals and a belief in God.”

Russia is officially a secular country but Putin has strengthened links between government and the Russian Orthodox Church during his time in power.

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Vladimir Putin has presided over Russia for the past 20 years, either as President or Prime Minister. Critics say this raft of constitutional changes have been introduced as another way for Putin to maintain his stranglehold on power. His term as President is due to end in 2024 and cannot be extended.

However, among the changes proposed is one that enshrines in the constitution a little-known body called the State Council. There is speculation this could act as a future power base for Putin.

As the amendments, which have already met with approval in the Russian Parliament’s lower houses, need to go to the public, some critics believe populist amendments – such as the same-sex marriage ban – have been added to ensure the public gets out to vote for them.

Although same-sex activity is legalized in Russia, LGBTQ people have few other rights. They are not allowed to adopt, and in 2013 a law was passed banning any “gay propaganda” that could be seen by minors. This effectively bans Pride marches and any positive representation of gay lives in the media.