President Vladimir Putin has said Russia does not discriminate against homosexuals.
The Russian president was speaking at a press conference in Amsterdam, where gay rights activists, topless feminists and other protestors critical of the lack of human rights laws in the country had greeted him.
He said: ‘In the Russian Federation – so that it is clear to everybody – there is no infringement on the rights of sexual minorities.
‘These people…enjoy all the same rights and freedoms as everyone else.’
In case Putin has forgotten, the state Duma approved a nationwide bill that makes ‘homosexual propaganda’ and gay public events illegal in January.
It still requires final approval by parliament, and would have to be signed into law by the president.
There have been multiple protests in recent months that have ended violently.
Speaking to Gay Star News, gay rights activist Nikolai Alekseev said Putin’s comments will not change anything in Russia.
‘Everyone understands Putin is doing this in a hypocritical way because it was the main topic of his visit to the Netherlands,’ he said.
‘This was for the Western public – “we don’t discriminate anyone”. You are banning the gay parade, you are banning public demonstrations for LGBT people, LGBT people are not able to register their unions, there is no anti-discrimination laws, there is absolutely nothing.
‘[Putin] is saying he’s ready to fight for the rights of LGBT people. He’s been the president for so many years, and he has not done anything and will continue to do nothing.
‘It’s great he can talk like that in Amsterdam, but he was forced to say it.’