Over 70% of Russians are against justification and public display of homosexual relations, with only 12% in favour, a new poll has found.

The poll, published by the Levada Center, was published to coincide with the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia (IDAHOT), today.

The results found that just 12% of respondents believe sex with someone of the same sex is normal sexual behaviour, and equal to heterosexual relations.

35% of respondents believed that same-sex relations were a disease or a result of psychological trauma, and 43% thought it was a bad habit.

On whether respondents believed that homosexuality should be punishable by law, 13% said they thought so, with 38% of respondents saying gay people should have special treatment, and another 38% saying gay people should be “left alone”.

Just eight percent thought that gay people should be allowed to live a normal life by society, with ten refusing to answer.

A rally to mark IDAHOT today was held in Russia’s second largest city St Petersburg, which was attended by many in opposition to “homosexual propaganda”, including City Council deputy Vitaly Milonov, who authored the anti-gay propaganda bill.

A gay man from the southern Russian city of Volgograd who was tortured to death in an apparent hate crime, was sexually assaulted with beer bottles, and had his skull “smashed with a stone”, authorities said last Sunday.

In January the Russian State Duma adopted the first reading of a homophobic censorship bill which would impose federal sanctions for the promotion of “gay propaganda”, similar to those passed in several regions of Russia, including St Petersburg. 

In Australia in February, Carl Katter started a campaign urging Melbourne City Council to break off its cultural partnership with St Petersburg over laws banning the “promotion” of gay and trans identities to minors, enacted by the Russian city in February of last year.

Venice and Milan have already cut their ties with St Petersburg over the laws.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, in April confirmed reports that the country may change its agreements for the foreign adoption of Russian children, in the light of France legalising equal marriage, to prevent gay, married couples from adopting.

The survey was conducted on April 19-22 among 1,600 respondents from 45 Russian regions. The margin of error is below 3.4 percent.