Russian President Vladimir Putin has said he will never legalise same-sex marriage.
Putin made clear that Russia would only accept mothers and fathers while he is in the Kremlin. And he referred to marriage equality as creating ‘parent number one’ and ‘parent number two’.
Moreover, he indicated he will support plans to change the constitution to define marriage as between a man and a woman.
He was speaking at a state commission to discuss changes to Russia’s constitution.
Putin said: ‘As far as “parent number 1” and “parent number 2” goes, I’ve already spoken publicly about this and I’ll repeat it again. As long as I’m president this will not happen.
‘There will be dad and mum.’
And when talking about changing the constitution to make marriage between a man and a woman he added:
‘We only need to think in what phrases and where to do this.’
So how long will Putin remain in power?
Putin has already been in power for 20 years. He was president from 1999 to 2008 and then prime minister before becoming president again in 2012.
Russians last re-elected Putin in March 2018 with 76% of the vote. It is his fourth presidential term. And he is due to serve a six-year term that will end in 2024.
But many believe he will try to stay president for life.
Technically he can’t stand for the presidency again in the 2024 election. However, experts say one of the least likely scenarios is that Russia will hold free and fair elections with Putin not in the race.
More likely, Putin could change the constitution to allow him further terms in office. Alternatively, he could effectively choose his own successor. That person would then protect Putin and carry on his legacy.
Another option is for him to change the constitution so he retains power but not as president. Putin could become prime minister again or chairman of the State Duma (parliament). In this case he would likely give himself extra powers.
He has already announced he wants to expand the powers of the Duma and State Council. That was the central point of the meeting where he made the marriage remarks.
Many see all this as him paving the way for 2024.
What do Russians think about marriage equality?
During two decades in office, Putin has allied himself with the Russian Orthodox Church and Patriarch Kirill of Moscow. And, as he seeks to build Russia’s power in the region, he’s been keen to present Russia as an alternative to the LGBT+ supportive EU.
The result is toxic for LGBT+ Russians.
A 2019 poll found just 7% for marriage equality and 87% against.
Unlike in other countries, attitudes towards equal marriage remain pretty much the same across generations. Even the youngest group surveyed, 18 to 30-year-olds, are 82% against marriage equality and only 12% in favor.
However, another 2019 survey showed that 47% of Russian respondents agreed that ‘gays and lesbians should enjoy the same rights as other citizens’.
Meanwhile, Russia remains one of the toughest places in the world to be LGBT+. Gay sex has been legal since 1993 with an equal age of consent of 16.
Despite this, the satellite state of Chechnya has carried out several round-ups of LGBT+ people. They have tortured and detained LGBT+ people in concentration camps.
And vigilantes frequently target LGBT+ people across Russia.
Russia also has federal laws banning “LGBT propaganda’ towards children. In practice, these are used to stiffel LGBT+ events and silence opposition to the government.