The Prime Minister of Russia, Dmitry Medvedev, has dismissed criticism of the country’s anti-gay laws, claiming not a single gay person in Russia has complained.
“If you are referring to the situation surrounding the law on the propaganda of so-called ‘non-traditional values’, I believe that only a negligible part of the Russian population is actually concerned about this – that’s my first point,” Mr Medvedev told CNN.
Dismissing concerns about LGBT rights violations at next month’s Sochi Winter Olympics, Mr Medvedev said: “Second, so far I have heard virtually nothing about this law actually being applied in practice – there is a lot of talk, but the law has not been applied anywhere.
“Third, unlike many countries where this kind of sexual relationship is banned, in Russia it isn’t.
“Therefore, I think all this talk has little to do with what’s actually happening in Russia or with the rights of sexual minorities in Russia.
“I haven’t heard of a single representative of Russia’s sexual minorities complaining, not even on the internet, about their rights being abused.
“And yet this caused an uproar outside Russia – so I think this is an artificial problem.
“If we find out that the rights of some group are being abused, no matter which group, we will certainly sit down and amend our legislation to stop this.
“But at this point, there are absolutely no problems with the law you are talking about”.
Although Mr Medvedev said he was not aware of any cases of the new law being used in practice, at least three gay activists have been found guilty of promoting non-traditional relationships and ordered to pay fines since the law was introduced last June.
“One can feel calm and at ease,” he said last Friday as he spoke to Olympic volunteers in Sochi. “Just leave kids alone, please.”
He also said that the popularity of Sir Elton John in Russia was further proof of the country’s acceptance towards gay people.