Russian President Vladimir Putin appears to be engaging in an aggressive public relations blitz in the run-up to the 2014 Winter Olympic Games in Sochi seeking to downplay the significance of his government's ban on "gay propaganda" and reassure gay athletes and fans that they will be safe.
But Putin's attempt to calm the world's fears have been largely met with skepticism, especially because his comments reveal an alarming ignorance about the basics of sexual orientation and a contain a stunning amount of, well, anti-LGBT propaganda.
Putin's latest foot-in-mouth moment came in an interview this weekend with Russian and foreign television stations, when he said that Russia must "cleanse" itself of homosexuality in order to prop up its lagging birthrate:
Putin noted with pride that Russia saw more births than deaths last year for the first time in two decades. Population growth is vital for Russia's development and "anything that gets in the way of that we should clean up," he said, using a word usually reserved for military operations.
He also refused to answer a question about whether he personally believes that people are born gay or become gay, and yet again (falsely) equated homosexuality with pedophilia.