And he ‘has gay friends and likes Elton John’ to prove it
- Russian President gave interviews ahead of Sochi Olympics next month
- Said ‘I don’t care’ about sexuality, and told visitors they were in ‘no danger’
- He also went out of his way to mention praise the ‘extraordinary’ Elton John
- His comments came as gay rights activists protested in Moscow
Vladimir Putin has insisted he is ‘not prejudiced in any way’, and that he has some gay friends, amid an outcry against Russia’s laws against gay ‘propaganda’.
He also made efforts to praise the ‘personal achievements’ of gay celebrities such as Elton John, whom he called ‘extraordinary’.
But the Russian leader also linked gay people to paedophiles, who are covered jointly in the controversial propaganda law, ahead of the Sochi Winter Olympics, which start next month.
‘Not prejudiced’: Russian president Vladimir Putin, left, said that he was uninterested in a person’s sexuality in an interview today. He made efforts to praise gay celebrities, such as the ‘extraordinary’ Elton John, right
Despite reassuring visitors the laws present ‘no danger’ to them, the Russian leader still suggested there was a need to ‘clean up’ homosexuality in Russian order to drive up the country’s birth rate, and defended the country’s right to pass such a law.
In an interview broadcast amid international outrage ahead of the Sochi Winter Olympics, he said: ‘Read our law carefully – it’s called “a ban on the propaganda of paedophilia and homosexuality”. But this is nothing to do with persecuting invididuals for their sexual orientation.’
‘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 [they are honoured] – for example Elton John is a extraordinary person, a distinguished musician, and millions of our people sincerely love him, regardless of his sexual orientation.’
In a segment later broadcast on the BBC’s Andrew Marr show, the president dodged a question on whether gay people are born or made.
But he did tell Andrew Marr: ‘If you want my personal attitude, I would tell you that I don’t care about a person’s sexual orientation.
Protests: Gay rights activists marched through Moscow today condemning homophobia and ‘fascism’
Authorities: A protestor wrapped in a rainbow flag walks past a police line
‘I myself know some people who are gay – we are on friendly terms. I am not prejudiced in any way.’
Mr Putin also made efforts to assure athletes and sports fans visiting the Sochi Winter Olympics that the new propaganda laws present ‘no danger’ to them.
The games, which start on 7 February, have cost more than £30billion, making them the most expensive in Olympic history.
The Russian government hopes to show the world a modern face of Russia, which has faced increased criticism from the West over human rights.
Mr Putin’s comments come as gay rights activists marched through Moscow with placards reading ‘Down with all Kinds of Fascism’, ‘ Homophobia in to the Fire!’, ‘ For Peace without Racism ! ‘, and ‘Bisexuals Against Fascism’.
Source : Daily Mail