Russian president Vladimir Putin. (Natalya Zamboska/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)
Russian president Vladimir Putin devoted part of his end-of-year news conference to comparing trans people to the coronavirus pandemic.
Sounding a hateful note to cap off a truly dispiriting year for queer Russians, Putin on Thursday (23 December) delivered his annual wide-ranging, four-hour-long marathon speech to the nation.
Fielding questions from the more than 500 journalists present, a reporter from state-controlled outlet RT seemingly read from a right-wing bingo card, asking Putin for his views of the “problems in Western society”, “cancel culture” and JK Rowling‘s views on gender identity.
“It’s like the coronavirus pandemic,” Putin replied. “New strains appear, we can’t escape it. It’s necessary to find effective countermeasures.
“If someone thinks that women and men are the same thing, then be my guest. But there is common sense.
“I stick to the traditional approach that a woman is a woman, a man is a man, a mom is a mom, and a dad is a dad.”
President Putin also swung at trans athletes such as Laurel Hubbard, the weightlifter who took part in the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games this year.
Putin made the nonsensical claim that women’s sport “will cease to exist” after Hubbard’s participation.
“A man declares himself a woman and competes in weightlifting, let’s say, or some other sport,” he said.
“Women’s sport will cease to exist. There has to be some kind of common sense.”
Repeating himself, he added: “I support a traditional approach, where a man is a man and a woman is a woman. Mum is mum and dad is dad.”
Vladimir Putin has long targeted LGBT+ people with his bitter rhetoric and actions, his hate amplified by the Kremlin, the media, the Orthodox Church and even schools. Lawmakers, meanwhile, decry LGBT+ people as “extremists” to be weeded out.
Blending his Soviet nostalgia with social conservatism, Putin has treated the lives of queer Russians as a hot-button issue, often in an attempt to amp up support for his seemingly iron-clad rule.
Only earlier this year did Putin threaten to further ban marriage equality and same-sex adoption (already outlawed) and legally erase trans people.
The policies, amendments to Russia’s Family Code, were drawn up to drum up support for a constitutional referendum that had the effect of enabling Putin to potentially rule into the 2030s.
Senator Yelena Mizulina, the architect of the 2012 gay propaganda bill that bans the “promotion” of LGBT+ lives to minors, spearheaded the proposals.
To the relief of many, however, Russia’s cabinet rejected the amendments.