Vladimir Putin has denied that the LGBT community faces discrimination in Russia, saying that controversial anti-gay laws do not infringe the rights of sexual minorities.
Speaking at the Valdai International Discussion Club on Thursday, Mr Putin insisted that the legislation only bans the “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors,” and argued that there was “no infringement on the rights of sexual minorities.”
Mr Putin continued to say that although some European countries have introduced same-sex marriage, “the Europeans are dying out… and gay marriages don’t produce children.”
“Do you want to survive by accepting immigrants?” Mr Putin said. “Society can’t absorb such a number of immigrants. Let us make our own choice, as we see it for our country.”
The 60-year-old, who is serving a third term in office, also said that traditional values underpinned Russian culture.
“Without the values at the core of Christianity and other world religions, without moral norms that have been shaped over millennia, people will inevitably lose their human dignity,” he argued.
The President criticised Western Europe, where “any traditional identity, … including sexual identity, is rejected… There is a policy equating families with many children with same-sex families, belief in God with belief in Satan.”
He added: “Any minority’s right to be different must be respected, but the right of the majority must not be questioned.”
The anti-gay ‘propaganda’ laws prescribes fines for providing information about homosexuality to people under the age of 18 – ranging from 4,000 roubles (£78) for an individual to 1m roubles (£19,620) for organisations.
He said that “no on would have lifted a finger” if Berlusconi was homosexual.