Russian President Vladimir Putin honours MP behind 'gay propaganda' ban

A gay rights activist poses with a rainbow flag during a protest in Dvortsovaya Square in St. Petersburg, Russia last month.
A gay rights activist poses with a rainbow flag during a protest in Dvortsovaya Square in St. Petersburg, Russia last month. PHOTO: REUTERS

SAINT PETERSBURG (AFP) - Russian President Vladimir Putin has bestowed an honour on the homophobic lawmaker who drafted the 2013 Russian law banning "gay propaganda".

Mr Putin cited Vitaly Milonov of the St Petersburg regional assembly for his "many years of conscientious work", according to an official government website on Monday.

"I'm very proud," Mr Milonov said. "It's as if he has given me an advance and I have to repay him by working even more."

Mr Milonov was behind the law banning the dissemination of "gay propaganda" among minors that drew Western condemnation.

He is also known for vociferous statements against gays, calling repeatedly for a "moral police" force in St Petersburg and organising raids on gay clubs in Russia's second city.

Recently he called for the shutdown of Facebook, accusing the social media website of spreading gay propaganda by allowing users to adorn their profile pictures with rainbow colours in support of the US Supreme Court ruling in favour of gay marriage.

Human Rights Watch last December sounded the alarm over a rising number of homophobic attacks in Russia, saying that the ban on "gay propaganda" effectively legalised discrimination.

Russia decriminalised homosexuality in 1993, and stopped classifying it as a mental illness only in 1999.