The French parliament legalized gay marriage on Wednesday, angering scores of conservative protesters across France. Joining the chorus on Friday was Russian President Vladimir Putin, announcing that Moscow would seek to amend an existing agreement on adoption of Russian orphans by French parents.
This should surprise no-one. Putin’s won approval at home for his administration’s anti-gay policies. An official in his foreign ministry issued a warning on the French bill when it was first approved in February; a warning that extended to Britain, whose House of Commons that same month approved a bill legalizing same-sex marriage (due for a likely House of Lords in May). And whatever measures of domestic sentiment he pays attention to have clearly signalled that this tactic — which debuted on January 1, when a piqued Putin banned adoptions by American parents in response to U.S. sanctions of top Russian officials — is a winner, a permanent weapon in his policy armory, whether it be used against social policy the Russian government objects to or to counter accusation of human-rights violations. And the Russian strongman likely has his next target in the crosshairs: Ireland, which was recently warned by the Kremlin that implementation of U.S.-style sanctions against Russia could imperil its adoption rights — and which is, handily for Putin, in the middle of its own internal political struggle over gay marriage. No word on New Zealand yet, however . . .