In a rare interview with a Western media outlet, Russian President Vladimir Putin appeared on US 60 Minutes
last night for a discussion with veteran reporter Charlie Rose.
The Russian leader - who recently stated that he would meet with Sir Elton John
after the singer was pranked by Russian radio hosts pretending to be Putin - was quizzed by Rose about his country's LGBT human rights record, and claimed that gay Russians face 'no persecution at all'.
"The problem of sexual minorities in Russia has been deliberately exaggerated from the outside for political reasons, I believe, without any good basis," he said.
"I believe there should not be any criminal prosecution or infringement of people’s rights on the basis of race, ethnicity or sexual orientation. We don’t have that.
"We had prosecutions on the basis of homosexuality - we’ve abolished all that. We have no persecution at all. People of non-traditional sexual orientation work, they live in peace, they get promoted, they get state awards for their achievements - I personally give them medals.
But we have a ban on gay propaganda aimed at minors: I believe we should leave kids in peace. We should give them a chance to grow and decide for themselves. Do they consider themselves a man or a woman, male or female? Do they want to live in a normal, natural marriage or a non-traditional one? I don’t see any infringement on the rights of gay people. I believe this has been a deliberate exaggeration aimed at making an enemy image of Russia for political considerations.
"We not only recognise but we assure their rights. In Russia there are equal rights for everyone - including people of non-traditional sexual orientation as well."
In Russia, same-sex couples are ineligible for the legal protections available to opposite-sex couples and there are currently no laws prohibiting discrimination regarding sexual orientation. Violence at public LGBT meetings such as Pride marches is also common.
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