Russia’s education system must teach its students to respect and preserve the country’s "traditions", including its stance on homosexuality, the nation’s education minister has said.
Dmitry Livanov, minister of education and science, said that his country was hoping to attract the best minds to live and work in Russia, but added that they must adhere to the restrictions imposed within the country.
In June last year, the country’s leader, President Vladimir Putin, passed what has been described as an anti-gay law banning “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations” among minors.
The law also prevents any suggestion that homosexual and heterosexual relations are “socially equivalent” and imposes fines to anyone who may do so.
Responding to a question about how these laws might affect the possibility of young talent heading to Russia to further their studies, Mr Livanov said that the job of his country’s education system was to teach its children to respect “traditional” values.
“We’re trying to attract talent from all over the world to work at our universities and our research facilities. We also think that every society has a certain set of traditions and restrictions, and everyone should understand those traditions and should respect not only the history of the society they live and work but also the restrictions that society imposes,” the cabinet minister said.
“Russian society is, to a great extent, based on respect for traditions, and we think that is of great value and an advantage [to Russia], and we think it is the task of our education system to preserve that status.”
The new law has sparked fears it might lead to discrimination and hate crimes towards the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender community in Russia and has led to concerns among the international community as to how gay athletes and fans will be treated in Russia should they attend the forthcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi.
The Russian premier has since attempted to allay fears by stating the gay community was welcome in the country, but despite his efforts, gay-rights activists have still called for a boycott of the Games.