Putin seeks to define marriage as 'union between a man and a woman' in changes to constitution

On Monday, Russian President Vladimir Putin submitted draft proposals to change the Constitution, which includes stating marriage as strictly heterosexual.

Putin standing at a podium with a blue background, he seeks to change constitution to define marriage as between a man and woman.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has submitted a draft proposal which will amend the country’s Constitution to enforce marriage as union between a man and a woman. 

This is the first time since 1993 that Russia has considered amending the Constitution. Putin first announced his intent in January, 2020, then on Monday, February 2, he submitted a 24 page document of suggested changes, which reportedly includes implicitly stating marriage was between a man and woman. The document also apparently ensures the “defence of historical truth” regarding the Soviet’s role in World War 2, and stating Russian’s “Faith in God.”

Putin is currently serving in his fourth presidential term, holding the position for over 20 years. Throughout his time in power, he has been vocal about his vow to never permit same-sex couples the right to marry or raise children. Last month, he stated, “As far as ‘parent number one’ and ‘parent number two’ goes, I’ve already spoken publicly about this and I’ll repeat it again: As long as I’m president this will not happen. There will be dad and mum.”

Though a full copy of the draft submissions have not been made public, a vice-speaker in the lower house of the Russian parliament, Pyotr Tolstoy, told news agencies on Monday, “For me, the most important proposal would fix the status of marriage as a union between a man and a woman. And I am happy that this amendment has appeared under the signature of the Head of State.”

Parliament has shown support for Putin’s draft in the first of three required readings. Final approval is expected for next week. This will lead to a nationwide vote on April 22. 

With the proposed amendments by Putin, heterosexual marriage will be enshrined within the Constitution and the Orthodox Church will receive further power from the stance of Russia’s “faith in God”. Political analyst, Konstantin Kalachev, told BBC Russia, “It turns out that our forefathers gave us faith in God and the ideas of communism. Putin is a mirror for the majority of Russians”.

Political scientist Grigory Golosov criticised the changes, “The constitution we have indicates that the state should be free of ideology. So I think these changes are inappropriate.”

In 2013, Putin introduced the anti-LGBT+ ‘propaganda’ law, which strictly blocked the promotion of LGBT+ relationships as it was deemed inappropriate to ‘traditional family values.’ The ECRI (European Commission against Racism and Intolerance) released a report detailing how the introduction of this law had a “chilling effect on groups working for LGBT persons.” The proposed constitutional changes further exemplify the president’s insistence on ‘traditional values’.

Last year, the ECRI commented on the way in which governmental powers have enabled the rise of anti-LGBT+ attitudes, “It is particularly worrying that the homophobic feeling is actively nurtured by the President and the Russian Orthodox Church and stigmatisation and intolerance towards the LGBT community have inevitably taken root.”

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