VALDAI, Russia (AP) — President Vladimir Putin has denied gays face discrimination in Russia, saying that a new law that has drawn protests worldwide does not infringe on their rights.
Putin on Thursday insisted the law bans only "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations among minors." He argues that it is "no infringement on the rights of sexual minorities."
The law has prompted calls for boycotts of the 2014 Winter Olympics hosted by Russia in Sochi.
Putin says while some European nations have allowed gay marriages, "the Europeans are dying out … and gay marriages don't produce children."
He added that heterosexual couples should have more children to reverse a population decline, saying "let us make our own choice, as we see it for our country."
Putin also said Thursday, that he could run for a fourth presidential term in 2018. If he serves four terms, that would keep him in power for about a quarter century and make him the nation's longest-serving leader since Josef Stalin.
Putin, who served two consecutive four-year terms starting in 2000, became prime minister in 2008 to observe a constitutional limit of two consecutive terms.
Putin continued calling the shots as premier with his longtime ally, Dmitry Medvedev, serving as a placeholder. Medvedev initiated a law that extended the presidential term to six years, and Putin won a third term in 2012 despite major public protests in Moscow against his rule.