President Vladimir Putin signed a law Wednesday banning the adoption of children by same-sex couples in Russia and abroad – and by residents of foreign countries where gay marriages are sanctioned.
The latest act aims to protect children from “dictated non-traditional sexual behavior” and protect them from “distress”, which psychologists say is experienced by children raised by same sex parents according to a fact sheet on the Kremlin’s website.
The act, which amends the Family Code and several federal laws, also eases some adoption procedures for Russians and expands orphans’ rights to medical care. The piece of the legislation swept through the both chambers of the Russian parliament in June.
Russia is currently working to sign bilateral agreements on child adoption with other countries. One of the first to sign such an agreement was France, and over the past few years it ranked fourth by the number of adopted Russian children after the United States, Italy and Spain. After France legalized same-sex marriage in May 2013 Russian officials said that the adoption agreement must be urgently changed.
Wednesday sign-off comes on top of another law approved by the president earlier in the week – the one which strengthens the penalties for “propagating homosexuality among minors”. The law bans any adverts which could be interpreted as having homosexual connotations from the media and the internet, which may be viewed by children.
The bill carries quite substantial penalties. Thus, for using the media or the internet for the promotion of non-traditional sex relations individuals will have to shell out up to 100,000 rubles (about US$ 3,000), while organizations – a million rubles or face a 90-day suspension of activities. Foreigners could also be put in jail and then deported.
The law was slammed as discriminatory by gay activists and human rights organizations in Russia and abroad; fears that it could lead to an increase in homophobia were voiced.
The Russian president told reporters last month that there was no discrimination in Russia.
“Less aggression and less emphasis on these problems would benefit everybody. People of all preferences are working in our country, making careers. We recognize them at state level for particular achievements in the fields where they work,” he said at the Russia-EU summit in Yekaterinburg on 4 June.