Russian President Vladimir Putin has mocked the decision by U.S. officials to fly a rainbow pride flag over the embassy in Moscow, saying it “tells you something about the people who work there.”
During a televised video conference on Friday, Putin was told that the American embassy had hung a rainbow flag on its facade for the first time to celebrate Pride Month in June.
“Who works in this building?” Putin asked the speaker, Sen. Alexei Pushkov, who responded, “Americans.”
“Let them celebrate. It tells you a certain something about the people who work there,” Putin added with a smile.
That same day, Putin signed amendments to the Russian Constitution backed by a national vote that includes a clause defining marriage as the union of a man and a woman.
“It’s no big deal though,” the president said Friday. “We have spoken about this many times, and our position is clear,” adding that Russia does not discriminate against people on the basis of sexual orientation.
“Yes, we passed a law banning the propaganda of homosexuality among minors. So what? Let people grow up, become adults and then decide their own destinies,” he said.
He said, “Those who attack us on this basis are just trying to break down an open door.”
During the period of debate over amending the Constitution, Putin said he would not let the role of mother and father be subverted into “parent number 1” and “parent number 2.”
In early June, President Donald Trump banned American embassies from displaying Pride flags, but several embassies flew them anyway, including the U.S. Embassy to Italy in Rome.
On June 25, U.S. Ambassador to Moscow John Sullivan said in a video on Twitter that “our embassy is displaying the rainbow flag in solidarity” with gays while wishing Russians a “happy Pride.”
The U.S. Embassy to Moscow published a statement saying, “June is Pride Month and we celebrate that everyone deserves to live a life free from hatred, prejudice and persecution.”
“As Ambassador Sullivan has said, ‘LGBTI rights are human rights. And human rights are universal. It’s as simple as that,’” the statement concluded.
The British embassy in Moscow also flew a rainbow flag.
Meanwhile, a spokesman for the Russian Orthodox Church denounced the LGBT flag as disrespectful of Russians’ values.