British citizens could be barred from adopting Russian children under a decree outlawing adoptions from countries with gay marriage signed by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
The decree, which is dated February 10 but was posted on the Russian government’s website on Thursday, is officially intended to “help improve the procedure for transferring children without parental care to families of Russian and foreign citizens, and to protect the rights and interests of these children.”
The amendments to the Russian adoption law that were signed by Mr Medvedev include a bar on adoptions by “those in a same-sex union recognized as a marriage and registered an accordance with the law of states in which such marriage is allowed, and also citizens of such states who are not married.”
The new wording of the law suggests that married heterosexual couples from countries that allow gay marriage will not be affected by the changes, though Russian media reported the law as a blanket ban.
The decree brings the Russian government’s guidelines into line with a federal law passed by the Russian parliament in June last year that banned adoptions by gay couples.
An explanatory note that accompanied last year’s law said the aim was to “protect children’s psyche and consciousness from the potential undesirable effects of artificial exposure to unconventional sexual relationships, and also from forming the complexes, mental suffering and stresses that research by psychologists suggests often affect children of same-sex parents”.
Russian law previously allowed unmarried Russian or foreign citizens to adopt after undergoing background checks.
While the decree does not mention countries by name, gay marriage is currently legal in 15 countries, including France, Spain and Canada.
Legislation allowing same sex marriage in England and Wales was passed in July last year and will come into force in March. The Holyrood parliament approved same sex marriage in Scotland earlier this month.
Citizens of the United States have been banned from adopting Russian orphans since January 2013, under a package of laws named after Dima Yakolev, a Russian child who died in 2008 after his American adoptive parents left in a parked car for nine hours.