Russian President Vladimir Putin says the U.S. has no room to criticize Russia’s anti-gay ban, which he says is a “much softer, liberal approach” to gay rights.
In the second installment of George Stephanopoulos’ interview with Putin, the ABC host asked him about the controversial law against anti-gay “propaganda” which has led to a number of boycotts of the upcoming Sochi Winter Olympics.
"There are no fears for people with this nontraditional orientation who plan to come to Sochi as guests or participants," Putin assured Stephanopoulos.
“I’d like to ask my colleagues and friends that, as they try to criticize us, they would do well to set their own house in order first,” Putin added. “I did say, after all—and this is public knowledge—that in some states in the U.S., homosexuality remains a felony.”
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“The Supreme Court had struck those laws down,” Stephanopoulos explained.
“How are they in a position to criticize us for what is a much softer, liberal approach to these issues than in their own country?” Putin continued. “There a lot of folks in the U.S. who share the view that the legislation in their state or their nation is appropriate, well-grounded, and is in sync with the sentiment of the vast majority of the population.”
Putin claimed protests and propaganda are different things and that protesters aren’t at risk of being arrested under the anti-gay law.
Stephanopoulos reported someone was arrest this work just for unveiling a rainbow flag at an Olympic torch-lighting ceremony.
“It has nothing to do with persecuting people for their nontraditional orientation. In this country, everybody is absolutely equal to anybody else,” Putin insisted.
“Russia does not criminally prosecute people for being gay, unlike in over one-third of the world’s nations,” he said. “70 of the world’s nations consider homosexual behavior a crime. Seven out of the 70 use capital punishment for homosexuality. What does it mean? Does it mean we need to cancel any major international sports events in these countries? Probably not.”
Putin also compared homosexuality to pedophilia, suggesting the propaganda ban is meant to stop child sexual abuse.
“The propaganda laws are almost the least of it,” Russian journalist Masha Gessen told ABC News. “It’s a huge, concerted campaign that’s unleashed by the Kremlin. It’s a campaign of hate and violence. So basically it’s a law that enshrines second-class citizenship.”
Russian lawmakers are still considering a law that would take children away from all LGBT couples.