Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, has proposed a constitutional amendment seeking to redefine marital concepts in a manner that places a ban on gay marriage.
Russia had, before now, been known for its anti-LGBTQ policies — although it had declassified homosexuality as being a criminal offence and a mental illness in 1993 and 1999 respectively.
On Monday, Putin submitted several proposed amendments to the constitution, including one that sought to re-define marriage as being strictly heterosexual in a sudden reversal.
The proposition, which is to be subjected to a referendum on April 22, also includes a conservative proclamation of Russians’ faith in God alongside a ban on giving away any Russian territory.
Speaking ahead of the referendum, Ekaterina Schulmann, a Moscow-based political scientist, told New York Times: “They are reinventing the vote as a referendum for traditional values.
“If turnout is properly high, then this newly amended constitution will be legitimized both in the eyes of the internal audience and the international community.
“They gave it a label to attract both those in favour and those opposed. Lots of people are concerned by these themes and the government needs moral legitimacy, so they are acting in this way.”
Putin had first proposed the amendments during a speech in January but many of his rivals had viewed the move as part of his plan to retain power after his current term ends in 2024.
He also suggested shifting some powers from the president to the prime minister and parliament, creating a deliberative chamber called the state council, the duty of which is yet to be defined.