Russian President Vladimir Putin addressed a growing international sentiment against Russia's anti-gay laws, claiming that the country is not attempting to be intolerant of sexual minorities.
Instead, Putin reportedly stated that the anti-gay laws were made to protect Russian children.
“Xenophobia should not be fostered in society, no matter on what criterion it is based, including sexual orientation,” Putin reportedly told a meeting of opposition parties. He went on to state that he has received "a lot of criticism in my own address, but everything we did at the government and legislative level -– all of this was connected to limitations on promotion among the underage.”
Russia has been the subject of international backlash since passing anti-gay "propaganda" legislation this past summer that went on to inspire a proposed bill that would remove the children of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) parents from their homes. The "propaganda" law has created a culture of fear and violence for LGBT Russians, reportedly subjecting individuals to public acts of humiliation and private acts of torture. The institutionalized homophobia has also inspired self-proclaimed vigilantes to take the law into their own hands, with some individuals even claiming to be "hunting" gays and lesbians.