MOSCOW, June 18 (RIA Novosti) – Russian lawmakers have unanimously approved amendments banning the adoption of Russian children by foreign couples in same-sex relationships, in a second reading vote on a broader bill.
The ban would also apply to single people living in countries where same-sex marriage is legal.
The draft law and related amendments to Russian family law were passed by Russia’s lower house of parliament, the State Duma, in a first reading on April 16.
The Duma voted on it in the second reading at about 5 p.m. Moscow time Tuesday, and the third and final reading in the lower house of parliament is slated for June 21.
France’s recent decision to allow same-sex couples to marry and adopt children – making it the ninth country in Europe to legalize gay marriage – thrust the issue into the limelight in Russia.
Although he has urged tolerance in relation to “people of traditional and non-traditional [sexual] orientation,” Russian President Vladimir Putin has made it clear that gay marriage goes against the government’s idea of “traditional Russian values.”
Last week, the Duma gave its final approval to a bill banning “the promotion of non-traditional sexual relationships,” in a move widely criticized by gay rights activists and human rights groups around the world.
In order to become law, both the adoptions bill and the “non-traditional” relationships bill need to be passed by the country’s upper house of parliament, the Federation Council, and signed by the president, which in each case is expected to be a mere formality.
Putin has already given the green light for a ban on the adoption of Russian children by foreign same-sex couples, saying “if such legislation is adopted by the country’s parliament, I will sign it.”
The changes to legislation under consideration on Tuesday cover broader issues related to family law and children in state care, including an increase in state benefits paid to people adopting children with disabilities, and age restrictions on single people adopting children.
Late last year, Russia passed a law banning the adoption of Russian children by Americans, who have adopted more than 60,000 Russian children in the past 20 years, according to US State Department figures.
While the ban was ostensibly prompted by concern for the welfare of Russian children in the wake of a series of high-profile scandals in which several Russian children were abused or died in the care of US adoptive parents, at least one Kremlin official acknowledged that it was a response to the Magnitsky Act, a US law that imposes financial and visa sanctions on Russian officials suspected of being complicit in human rights violations.
Updated to reflect the fact that the second reading vote has taken place