- (Photo: Reuters/Alexsey Druginyn/RIA Novosti/Pool)
Russian President Vladimir Putin signed off on a bill earlier this week that bans the adoption of children by same-sex couples in countries where gay marriage is allowed, in an attempt to protect them from "spiritual suffering and untraditional sexual behavior."
The ban also extends to single people and unmarried couples living in same-sex marriage practicing countries, The Associated Press noted.
The new law apparently has been designed to protect against negative influences children might find themselves exposed to in the custody of same-sex couples, including "artificial imposition of untraditional sexual behavior and spiritual suffering and stress," according to Interfax-Religion.com.
The law was passed by the Russian State Duma on June 21, and later approved by the Federation Council on June 26. As many as 600,000 Russian children currently find themselves without parental custody, and their options became even more limited at the start of the year when the country banned all adoptions from Americans.
Currently, 13 countries allow same-sex couples to freely marry on a nationwide level, with Uruguay and New Zealand to join the list in the coming year. The United States also recently struck down parts of its Defense of Marriage Act, which gives gay couples married in states that allow the practice the same federal rights as heterosexual couples.
Russia has remained committed in its stance on traditional family values and has passed a number of laws recently that seek to limit the influence of homosexuality in the country.
On Sunday, Putin signed a law that prohibits gay "propaganda" and threatens fines on those who spread information about the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community to minors.
"Traditional sexual relations are relations between a man and a woman, which ... are a condition for the preservation and development of the multi-ethnic Russian people," lawmaker Yelena Mizulina previously said of the bill, which was passed by an overwhelming 436-0 vote in the Duma. "It is precisely these relations that need special protection by the state.
Putin has insisted that Russia does not oppress people and that it does not infringe on sexual minorities' rights, claiming that they enjoy "full rights and freedoms," though gay rights activists have heavily disagreed.