A new report by Human Rights Watch (HRW) shows homophobic violence is on the rise in Russia.
Russia passed a law in June 2013 banning distribution of “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” among minors, which means gay people cannot express their views on LGBT rights to anyone under the age of 18.
“Many serious problems plague Russia’s rights record,” Tanya Lokshina, Russia’s programme director at HRW said on Tuesday. In the report, the New York-based group highlighted “homophobic rhetoric in state media” and a rise in anti-gay attacks.
In December, President Putin signed a decree dissolving Russia’s biggest news agency RIA Novosti, and ordering instead the creation in its place of a new media conglomerate called Rossiya Segodnya (Russia Today).
As part of the move Mr Putin named Dmitry Kiselyov as the head of Russia Today.
He said: “I think that to fine gays for the propaganda of homosexuality among teenagers is not enough. They should be prohibited from donating blood, sperm. And their hearts—in case of a car accident—should be buried or burned as unfit for extending anyone’s life.”
The Russian city of Sochi is hosting the Winter Olympics next month.
President Putin has defended Russia’s anti-gay laws repeatedly in recent days.
“One can feel calm and at ease,” he said as he spoke to Olympic volunteers in Sochi. “Just leave kids alone, please.”