A member of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s ruling party has tabled a draft law to take children away from homosexual parents, adding to measures that activists say are undermining gay rights.
The draft law, which follows legislation banning gay “propaganda”, would add homosexuality to a list of conditions including drug and child abuse that can lead to parents being stripped of custody over their children.
The proposal, put forward today, highlights the more socially hardline course that Putin has charted in his third presidential term as he seeks to boost support among conservative voters.
“In the case when a parent has sexual contact with people of their own gender, the damage that can be inflicted on the psyche of a child is enormous,” Alexei Zhuravlyov wrote in submitting the draft to the parliament’s lower house, the Duma.
He said that between five and seven per cent of people across Russia were of “non-traditional” sexual orientation and that at least a third of those had children.
It was not clear if Zhuravlyov’s proposal had a strong chance of becoming law, but it follows other legislation signed by Putin that rights activists and Western governments say are discriminatory against homosexuals.
Homosexuality was decriminalised after the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union, but many Russians still view it as either an affliction that requires medical treatment or a crime deserving of prosecution.
Putin said this week that Russia’s love for the composer Pyotr Tchaikovsky, who was homosexual, was proof that the country appreciated its gay population.
But gay activists say they are being turned into scapegoats for problems including low birth rates and an HIV/Aids epidemic that is closely tied to drug use.