In the recent run-up to the Winter Olympics, Russia's Putin has indicated that he didn't have a problem with gays in Russia per se.

His only (stated) concern was with gay "propaganda," specifically directed to minors.

Do people believe his position on the matter is really something like "don't ask, don't tell?" Have people tended to take his statements more or less at face value based on his track record on this and other issues?


Putin personally probably doesn't care one way or the other (without mind reading machinery, you can't tell). But he is clearly pandering to Russian public view, which is opposed to homosexuality:

  • 74% of Russians think that society should not accept homosexuality (in general - not "gay marriage" or "gay pride"). Source: Pew Global Research, 2013

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  • In 1989, 31 percent of the Russian population said in polls that homosexuals should be executed, and 32 percent said they should be isolated. Only 12 percent said they should be left alone. The figures are shifting slightly, however: in 1994, 23 percent in a poll said homosexuals should be killed, 24 percent said they should be isolated, and 29 percent said they should be left alone. (source: NYT, 1995)

  • The latter numbers shifted slightly by 2013 - "only" 5% think that gays should be exterminated. I still await GLAAD to declare war on Russia.

    Around 85 percent of adult Russians said they were strongly against a law that would allow same-sex marriage, the Levada Public Opinion Center reported; 87 percent said they opposed the idea of holding regular gay pride events in their cities.

    Researchers claimed that the percent of supporters of same-sex marriage in Russia fell from 14 to just 5 percent over the past three years. The number of those who do not oppose gay pride events is a consistently low 6 percent.

    About 23 percent of those polled said they understood the concerns held by Russia’s sexual minorities, and believed that they should be left to themselves, minimizing societal intervention in private lives; three years ago, 24 percent of Russians held this belief.

    Another 27 percent said that the society must provide ‘psychological aid’ to gay people, compared to a previous 22 percent.

    On the other side of the spectrum, some expressed strong opposition to homosexuality: 16 percent of those polled suggested that homosexuals should be isolated from society, 22 percent said that the treatment of homosexuality must be made compulsory, and 5 percent said that homosexuals should be ‘exterminated.’

    (source: Levada Public Opinion Center)

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    That's the thing that surprised me. Based on your answer above, Putin' statements seem "mild" compared to the Russian people's. It seems like he's following "echoing," rather than leading the sentiment. – Tom Au Jan 22 '14 at 18:16
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    @TomAu - That's because he doesn't care about gays one way or another. He's got bigger fish to fry. He'll pander to help his popularity, but he doesn't expend his energy/political capital on something this insignificant. – user4012 Jan 22 '14 at 18:17
  • There was an edit war regarding a certain phrasing in this question. One of the two version was offensive. I reverted it to the non-offensive phrasing. – Philipp Feb 4 '18 at 21:01

His concern is with propaganda targeting minors.

Putin has no problem with gays, but specifically with the June legislation aimed at protecting children from nontraditional sexual propaganda. Russia doesn't discriminate against homosexual relations. ABC reports,

"We have no ban on nontraditional sexual relations. We have a ban on propaganda of homosexuality and pedophilia. I want to underline that, on propaganda to minors." he said.

Putin and other politicians have defended the June propaganda law a a protecton of child rights [...]

The political researchers at Politifact agree with this assessment, noting that:

Russia is not listed as one of the 76 countries where homosexuality is banned.

In fact, according to the ILGA’s [International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association ] profile of Russia on its website, male-to-male and female-to-female relations are not legally discriminated against there. Gays and lesbians can also serve in the military in Russia. [...]

In June 2013, Putin signed a law banning promotion of "non-traditional sexual relations" toward minors, a prohibition on so-called "homosexual propaganda." The Russian law places stiff fines on individuals and companies that promote homosexualtiy in front of children, whether in public or through media or the Internet.

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    Politifact rated that statement only half true: politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2014/jan/19/… – Avi Jan 21 '14 at 22:30
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    @user1873 is right, they are treated equally. Ban on homosexual acts/propaganda in public is like a ban on public nudity or sex - it's perfectly legal and no civil right is being violated. PolitiFact seem to think that censorship is illegal. – Shahar Jan 22 '14 at 14:58
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    Also, if speech is banned relative to one sexual orientation and not others, that's discriminatory. – Avi Jan 22 '14 at 22:44
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    @user1873 homosexuality isn't a lifestyle. I don't see what your question has to do with the fact that it's discriminatory. If one sexuality can be "advocated", but not other, that's discriminatory regardless of by whom the advocating is done. – Avi Jan 22 '14 at 22:55
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    @Shahar as far as I can tell, your argument is incoherent. If I banned people from saying the Shema, would that not be discriminatory against Jews? If I banned people from reciting the rosary, would that not be discriminatory against Catholics? The acts don't have specific religions. But nevertheless, the restrictions would discriminate based on religion, and thus be discriminatory. – Avi Jan 23 '14 at 4:53

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