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July 1, 2020 (LifeSiteNews) – Wednesday was the final day of voting in Russia on the all but inevitable re-election of President Vladimir Putin to another 12-year term, and on whether or not to formally ban state recognition of same-sex “marriage.”

Putin said in February that he would back a national referendum to “clarify some things,” including that “marriage is a union of a man and woman” and that “as long as I am president, we will not have parents #1 and #2, we will have ‘papa’ and ‘mamma.’” The comments were consistent with his past opposition to formal promotion of homosexuality.

This week’s amendment, for which polls opened last Thursday, “clarifies” that only monogamous heterosexual unions will be recognized as marriages in Russia. Other amendments put up for referendum include one that adds the phrase “faith in God” to the Russian constitution, and another that would eliminate term limits for the Russian president, effectively allowing Putin to remain in power for life.

The marriage amendment has come under fire from international observers, prompting supporters and Putin allies to accuse foreign countries of attempting to interfere with Russian elections, the CBC reported.

On June 27, the ambassadors to Russia from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand issued a joint statement to “celebrate Pride Month by applauding LGBTI activists and their allies,” and to “call upon the government of the Russian Federation to adhere to its stated commitment to protecting the rights of all citizens, including the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) community.”

“In Russia, this situation (over gay rights) is compounded by an increase in violence and intimidation of the community by local authorities and other actors,” declared Canada's ambassador to Russia, Alison LeClaire, “and proposals for constitutional amendments that if adopted would lead to an increasingly less inclusive national legal framework.”

The New York Times reported in March that polls indicated the referendum would have low turnout and enthusiasm, and suggested that putting the marriage amendment on the referendum was intended to turn things around and, according to Moscow-based political scientist Ekaterina Schulmann, “reinven(t) the vote as a referendum for traditional values.”

“They gave it a label to attract both those in favor, and those opposed,” Schulmann said. “If turnout is properly high, then this new amended constitution will be legitimized both in the eyes of the internal audience and international community.”

Elections are not truly free in Russia, but the state seeks high voter turnout in order to give them the appearance of legitimacy. NBC News reported that, according to Russia’s Central Election Commission, the state’s efforts seem to have yielded a turnout of more than 60 percent.

The CEC further reported 73 percent support for the package of Putin-backed amendments, including the marriage language.

Despite its hardline stance on LGBT issues, however, Russia is far from a model of pro-family governance. On top of its authoritarian rule, the country is a world leader in abortions per capita and allows surrogacy for profit to run rampant.