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Russian constitution must define marriage as heterosexual, Putin says

Putin has claimed he’s not prejudiced against gays, but that he finds a Western willingness to embrace homosexuality out of step with Russian values.
Image: Law enforcement officers block participants of the LGBT community rally \"X St.Petersburg Pride\" in central Saint Petersburg, Russia
Law enforcement officers block participants of the LGBTQ community rally "X St.Petersburg Pride" in central Saint Petersburg, Russia Aug. 3, 2019.Anton Vaganov / Reuters file

MOSCOW - President Vladimir Putin has proposed amending the Russian constitution to spell out that marriage means a union between a man and a woman and nothing else, a senior politician was cited as saying on Monday by the RIA news agency.

Putin, who has aligned himself with the Russian Orthodox Church and sought to distance Russia from liberal Western values, has proposed a shake-up of Russia’s political system that critics say may be designed to extend his grip on power after 2024, when he is due to leave the Kremlin.

He and his supporters see that overhaul as an opportunity to modify the constitution to enshrine what they see as Russia’s core moral and geopolitical values for future generations.

Putin on Monday submitted his constitutional proposals to parliament just before the deadline, RIA cited Pyotr Tolstoy, deputy chairman of the lower house, as saying.

“For me, the most important one is his proposal to enshrine in basic law the concept of marriage as a union between a man and a woman,” Tolstoy added.

Putin said last month Russia would not legalize gay marriage as long as he was in the Kremlin. He said he would not let the traditional notion of a mother and father be subverted by what he called “parent number 1” and “parent number 2.”

Homosexuality in Russia, where the influence of the socially conservative Orthodox Church has grown in recent years, was a criminal offense until 1993, and classed as a mental illness until 1999.

Under Russian law, only heterosexual couples can adopt children.

Western governments and human rights activists have criticized the Russian authorities for their treatment of LGBTQ people. Gay British singer Elton John was among those to speak out against a 2013 law that banned the dissemination of “gay propaganda” among young Russians.

Under the law, any event or act regarded by the authorities as an attempt to promote homosexuality to minors is illegal and punishable by a fine. The law has been used to stop gay pride marches and to detain gay rights activists.

Putin has said he is not prejudiced against gay people, but that he finds a Western willingness to embrace homosexuality and gender fluidity out of step with traditional Russian values.

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