French, British gay marriage harms adoption chance: Russia

The approval of gay marriage by parliaments in France and Britain harms the chances of citizens of those countries adopting Russian children, a senior Russian Foreign Ministry official said Wednesday.

"The British and French parliaments have legalised same-sex marriages. This narrows the chances of the citizens of these countries adopting Russian children," the foreign ministry's human rights envoy Konstantin Dolgov wrote on Twitter.

France's National Assembly on Saturday overwhelmingly approved a key piece of legislation that will allow homosexual couples to marry and adopt children, to the delight of gay activists.

Although the proposed law still faces at least another week of scrutiny before a final vote scheduled for February 12, it now looks set to emerge from parliament without delay and undiluted.

British lawmakers on Tuesday voted in favour of controversial legislation allowing gay marriage despite fierce opposition from members of Prime Minister David Cameron's own party.

Dolgov earlier praised those who are campaigning against the bill in France, saying that: "Christian values are alive even in the conditions of Western neo-liberalism."

The speaker of Russia's lower house, Sergei Naryshkin, hinted on a visit to Paris on Tuesday that adoption rules with France could be tightened up over the new legislation.

"We are now beginning to discuss the question of whether we need to sign a larger-scale agreement with France on family issues," he told journalists, quoted by the RIA Novosti news agency.

"If the work starts then of course we will need to take into consideration the legislative norms in Russia and France, including the possible passing of this [gay marriage] bill by France."

However, the head of the lower house's family, women and children committee, Yelena Mizulina, told RIA Novosti that Russia was only debating whether to "introduce some amendments" in the current agreement, while confirming it was prompted by the possible passing of the law in France.

The Kremlin's children's ombusdman Pavel Astakhov made it clear in an interview with state daily Rossiiskaya Gazeta on Tuesday that Russia had no intention of recognising French or British gay couples as married, even though single people are only allowed to adopt in Russia in what he called "exceptional cases".

"This position is expressed in our basic laws: the Constitution and the Family Code. They say directly that a marriage is between a man and a woman. We have nothing else. Period," said Astakhov, who has also backed a ban on US adoptions.

"The UN Convention says a child has a right to a mother and a father. And we can't change this model."

Russia does not allow or recognise gay marriage and the authorities have cracked down on gay pride events. A controversial law now being debated by the parliament would see a nationwide ban on propaganda of homosexuality to minors.

The Russian parliament late last year caused an international outcry by agreeing a blanket ban on adoptions of Russian children by US families in response to a US rights bill imposing sanctions on Russian officials.

Some Russian officials have indicated support for taking the ban further and in the future only allowing Russian children to be adopted in Russia.

Neighbouring Ukraine refused to allow gay British pop star Elton John, who has civil partnership with his partner David Furnish, to adopt a toddler in 2009, saying that foreigners could only adopt if they were married and deeming the couple too old.