Russia has formally distanced itself from endorsing LGBT rights, even going so far as refusing to recognise such rights, in a joint statement released by G8 foreign ministers.

The statement, which affirmed the fundamental rights to which people were entitled everywhere,  came after a meeting of the ministers in Washington on Thursday.

The chair of the meeting said in the statement: “The ministers reaffirmed that human rights and fundamental freedoms are the birthright of all individuals, male and female, including lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender individuals. These individuals often face death, violence, harassment and discrimination because of their sexual orientation in many countries around the world.”

However, the statement had a footnote: “the Russian Federation disassociates itself from this language given the absence of any explicit definition or provision relating to such a group or such persons as separate rights holders under international human rights law.”

This morning, Sergei Ryabkov, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, went further. He said that “under the pretext of protecting the so-called sexual minorities, in effect there’s aggressive propaganda and the imposition of certain behavior and values that may insult the majority of the society.” According to him, there are no separate norms for the protection of people according to their sexual orientation or gender identity in international law.

Earlier this year, St Petersburg passed a law which would ban “homosexual propaganda” directed at minors. Two have already been prosecuted for displaying the sign “gay is normal” near a youth club. Other Russian regions have followed suit, and there have been calls for the law to be replicated at a national level.

The Wall Street Journal has noted that according to a recent poll by the Levada Center, almost three in four Russian consider homosexuality “an amoral mental deviation,” with less than half believing that gay people deserve the same rights as heterosexuals.