Barack Obama has chided Russia for its continued anti-gay laws and policies, in a wide-ranging speech in Brussels.

The US President was harshly critical of Russia in the speech yesterday after meeting European leaders, and spoke out against both Russia’s gay rights record and its intervention in Crimea.

He also detailed sanctions taken against the country in the speech.

He said: “Instead of targeting our gay and lesbian brothers and sisters, we can use our laws to protect their rights. Instead of defining ourselves in opposition to others, we can affirm the aspirations that we hold in common. That’s what will make America strong. That’s what will make Europe strong. That’s what makes us who we are.”

“We believe in human dignity, that every person is created equal – no matter who you are or what you look like or who you love or where you come from. That is what we believe. That’s what makes us strong. And our enduring strength is also reflected in our respect for an international system that protects the rights of both nations and people – a United Nations and a Universal Declaration of Human Rights, international law and the means to enforce those laws.”

“We want the Russian people to live in security, prosperity and dignity like everyone else, proud of their own history.”

Research earlier this year found that Obama had used the words gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender far more times than any other president during his time in office so far.

Last month he rebuked the Ugandan president for signing an anti-gay law.