Vladimir Putin claims it's his “duty” to stop gay people from getting married.
In an interview with Oliver Stone airing on Showtime this week, the Russian president explained that, as head of state, he was obligated "to uphold traditional values and family values.”
His reasoning? "Because same-sex marriages will not produce any children. God has decided, and we have to care about birth rates in our country. We have to reinforce families."
"But," he added, "that doesn't mean that there should be any persecutions against anyone."
Repression of Russia's LGBT community is well-documented, but Putin has continually denied queer people face persecution. Talking with Stone, he claimed Russia is "liberal-minded to a great extent," and insisted gay Russians are under no particular threat.
"There is no situation like in some Muslim countries, where homosexuals face the death penalty. We have no restrictions or harassment based on gender. Moreover, many people explicitly talk about their non-traditional sexual orientation. We maintain relations with them and many of them achieve outstanding results in their activity. They even get state awards and orders for their achievements."
He added that there are no laws prohibiting gays from serving in the military, prompting Stone to ask whether he'd be comfortable showering on a submarine with a homosexual crewman.
"I prefer not to go to the shower with him," Putin responded. "Why provoke him? But you know, I'm a judo master and a Sambo master as well."
Putin did, however, defend Russia's ban on same-sex adoption: "I cannot say that it is welcomed by our public," he conceded. "I say this frankly. In my view, children will have a freer choice when they become adults if they grow up in a traditional family."
He used similar rhetoric to defend Russia's "gay propaganda” ban, telling Stone the law allows children "the opportunity to grow up without impacting their consciousness."