Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinRussian military says it test-fired hypersonic missile Is Ukraine Putin's Taiwan? Biden administration resists tougher Russia sanctions in Congress MORE has proposed an amendment to the Russian constitution that would ban same-sex marriage as part of a referendum that could keep him in power beyond 2024.
The referendum, set for next month, includes several other amendments, many of which similarly appeal to social conservatives and proponents of the Russian Orthodox Church, and which Putin’s allies hope will boost turnout for the proposal.
Other amendments identify Russian as “the language of the state-forming nationality” and the Russian people as the ethnic group that created the nation, while also appealing to Soviet nostalgia among some older Russians by defining the modern nation as the successor state to the USSR.
“[T]hey are reinventing the vote as a referendum for traditional values,” Ekaterina Schulmann, a Moscow-based political scientist, told The New York Times.
“They gave it a label to attract both those in favor, and those opposed,” she added. “If turnout is properly high, then this new amended constitution will be legitimized both in the eyes of the internal audience and international community.”
“A lot of people are concerned by these themes and the government needs moral legitimacy, so they are acting in this way,” Aleksey Chesnakov, director of the Center for Current Policy, told the Times. “When you operate on moral principles you have more legitimacy in your own eyes and the eyes of the people.”
A parliamentary committee approved the amendments Tuesday, with the full Parliament set to vote before April 22, the date of the referendum.
Deputy Speaker Pyotr Tolstoy has spoken out in favor of the referendum, calling the marriage amendment a necessary measure to keep international organizations from “forc[ing] Russia into any giving sort of special rights for the LGBT community.”