Vladimir Putin, in between accusing the West of stoking a global war to destroy Russia, took the time to mock LGBTQ+ rights.
During his rambling hours-long state-of-the-nation address, the Russian president cast his country as the victim of Western double-crossing.
Russia – not Ukraine, he said – are the ones fighting for survival.
The marathon speech has for decades set the tone for the year ahead and today came ahead of the one-year anniversary of the Russia-Ukraine war on Friday.
But Putin told members of both houses of Russia’s parliament, the Federal Assembly, in Moscow today how among the country’s enemies are LGBTQ+ people.
In a long-winded digression, Putin warned that Russians face an almost existential threat from ‘corrupt Western values’ like marriage equality.
‘The West declares that perversions including paedophilia, are part of the norm, destroys its values, calls on priests to bless same-sex marriages,’ he said.
Vladimir Putin warned against ‘corrupt Western values’ (Picture: Sputnik/AP)
To thunderous applause, Putin mocked media reports that the Church of England is considering gender-neutral terms for God.
On Western countries legalising same-sex marriage, Putin said: ‘That’s fine. They’re adults. They have the right to live their lives.
‘We are always very tolerant about this in Russia. Nobody is trying to enter the private lives of people,’ he said, only two months after extending his so-called ‘gay propaganda ban’ to adults as well as minors.
‘However, we need to tell them to look at the sacred texts of any religion on Earth. Everything is set in there, and one of the things is that family means a union between a man and a woman.
‘But even these sacred texts are subjected to doubt. And the Anglican church is planning to consider the idea of a gender-neutral God. What can you say here?
‘We have to protect our children from degradation and degeneration – and we will.’
‘Gay propaganda’ has been banned in Russia for nearly a decade (Picture: Artur Widak/NurPhoto)
Putin has long used scaremongering around sexuality and gender to support his agenda while cracking down on human rights in Russia.
Shadowy western elites, he has said in the past, are trying to put an end to traditional Russian values and impose LGBTQ+ rights on unsuspecting children.
During a four-hour end-of-year conference in 2021, Putin compared trans people to the coronavirus, saying ‘new strains appear’ while targeting trans people competing in sports.
Such rhetoric is how he pushed a law in 2013 that banned ‘propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations’ to young people.
The Human Rights Watch said the ban has exacerbated long-standing challenges queer Russians face, such as bullying, discrimination and violence.
‘When Russian President Vladimir Putin signed the federal law in June 2013, he pandered to a conservative domestic support base,’ the organisation said in 2018.
‘And on the international stage, the law helped position Russia as a champion of so-called “traditional values”.’
The Duma would go on to give final approval to a new law extending this ban to those over-18 last year, which Putin rubber-stamped in December.
The beefed-up bill also prohibits people from mentioning that trans youth exist, from portraying LGBTQ+ in media and from effectively being an LGBTQ+ ally at all.
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‘The West declares that perversions including paedophilia.’