Putin proposes to enshrine God, heterosexual marriage in charter

Vladimir Putin
Vladimir Putin

MOSCOW — Russian President Vladimir Putin has submitted to parliament a number of proposed constitutional changes, including amendments that mention God and stipulate that marriage is a union of a man and woman.

Putin unleashed a political storm in January by proposing an overhaul of the constitution, the first changes to the basic law since 1993.

Shortly afterwards, the lower house unanimously approved the constitutional reform bill in a first reading after less than two hours of debate.

Ahead of a second and key reading set for next week, Putin submitted new proposals running to 24 pages, State Duma Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin said.

“The president’s amendments are the result of his dialogue with representatives of all factions (and) civil society,” he said in comments released by the State Duma, or lower house of parliament.

The proposed amendments enshrine the mention of Russians’ “faith in God” and also stipulate that marriage is a heterosexual union, deputy speaker Pyotr Tolstoy said.

Most Russians identify as Orthodox Christians, but Russia is officially a secular state.

The new amendments also ban giving away Russian territory, and any call promoting such a move would also be outlawed.

A member of a Kremlin-appointed constitutional working group, actor Vladimir Mashkov, has suggested that such an amendment would ensure that Russia keeps Crimea — which it annexed from Ukraine in 2014 — or the Kuril Islands — disputed with Japan for decades — even after Putin quits power.

The amendments also seek to protect historic truth.

The Russian leader has repeatedly railed against attempts to “rewrite” history and complained that the West does not fully appreciate the huge losses sustained by the Soviet Union during World War II.

Russia is set to hold large-scale celebrations this year, 75 years after the Allied victory over the Nazis.

Tolstoy praised the draft legislation.

“I believe that most of the proposals that have been discussed have been taken into account,” he told AFP, adding he was glad the president supported his heterosexual marriage proposal.

The 67-year-old Putin, who has dominated Russia for 20 years, has sought to cast himself as a defender of traditional values and rally support by promoting anti-Western and conservative ideas.