Putin backs banning adoption by foreign same-sex couples

YEKATERINBURG, Russia (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin will back a ban on same-sex couples from abroad adopting Russian children, he said on Tuesday, dismissing Western criticism of the way homosexuality is treated in Russia.

Russian President Vladimir Putin meets with businessmen and entrepreneurs at Voronezhsintezkauchuk plant, producing synthetic rubber and latex, in the city of Vorovezh, May 23, 2013. REUTERS/Mikhail Klimentyev/RIA Novosti/Pool

Putin also called for tolerance, but his remarks, after a summit with European Union leaders, underscored a rift between Russia and many Western governments over gay rights.

Putin, who has embraced the Russian Orthodox Church as a moral authority and harnessed its influence as a source of political support, has championed socially conservative values during a new term he started in May 2012.

He said in April that a French law allowing same-sex marriage went against Russian values.

“As for a law restricting adoptions of children from Russia by same-sex families ... if such a law is passed by parliament I will sign it,” Putin told a news conference after the Russia-EU summit in the city of Yekaterinburg.

A government official said on Saturday that legislation allowing only “traditional” foreign families to adopt Russian children would be submitted to parliament this year.

Same-sex couples are not recognized under Russian law and cannot adopt.

Putin, who faced protests by supporters of gay rights on a visit in April to the Netherlands - the first country to allow same-sex marriage - said he was tired of being pressed on the issue.

“Listen, you’ve worn me out with these same-sex marriages. Wherever you go! I went to Europe, they’re waving flags; I came here and again you’re nagging me about this,” Putin said after a reporter asked about the potential adoption ban.

Western governments have expressed concern over a separate Russian bill that would ban the spreading of homosexual “propaganda” among minors, with the United States saying that would severely restrict freedom of assembly and expression.

Activists say the bill, backed by Putin’s allies in parliament, would prohibit all gay-rights rallies and fear it is fuelling violence against gays. Russian authorities say two recent murders were motivated by homophobia.

Putin dismissed such criticism, saying Russian legislation on gay issues was “is quite liberal. There is no discrimination, none at all.”

He urged tolerance but said that should apply to people on both sides of the argument.

“Really, we should be more tolerant and show less aggression - that applies both to people of traditional and non-traditional orientation,” Putin said.

Writing by Steve Gutterman; Editing by Robin Pomeroy