Russian President Vladimir Putin has claimed that some countries are considering legalizing pedophilia in defending his country’s ban on so-called homosexual propaganda to minors in an interview with the BBC but says he has gay people in his life.
'I myself know some people who are gay,’ Putin told the BBC’s Andrew Marr, ‘We're on friendly terms.'
Putin also claimed that gay people were not discriminated against in his country despite Russia having no specific laws outlawing discrimination against LGBTI people.
‘They can do what they want, but the people of Russia have their own cultural code, their own traditions,’ Putin said yesterday.
‘It seems to me that the law we adopted doesn't harm anybody. What's more, homosexual people can't feel inferior here, because there is no professional, career or social discrimination against them.
‘When they achieve great success, for example Elton John - he's an extraordinary person, a distinguished musician, and millions of our people sincerely love him, regardless of his sexual orientation.’
However Putin claimed his country’s ban on so-called homosexual propaganda to minors was necessary as some countries were considering legalizing pedophilia.
‘Read our law carefully and pay attention to its name,’ Putin said.
‘It's called a ban on the propaganda of pedophilia and homosexuality. There are countries, including in Europe, where they're debating the possibility of legalizing pedophilia. Publicly discussing this, in parliament.
‘They can do what they want, but the people of Russia have their own cultural code, their own traditions.’
However Putin suggested athletes or spectators who protested the law during the Sochi Winter Games would escape prosecution.
‘Protest actions and propaganda are two slightly different things,’ Putin told Marr.
‘Similar, but from a legal point of view, protesting against a law is not the same as propaganda for homosexuality or child abuse.’
Despite Putin’s claim, an activist was arrested after he unfurled a rainbow flag during an Olympic torch relay for the game on Saturday.