An activist demonstrates against Russia's anti-gay legislation on the day of the opening ceremony the Sochi Winter Olympic Games in Hong Kong on February 7, 2014.
Russian decree restricts adoptions
02:23 - Source: CNN

Story highlights

Same-sex married couples are banned from adopting Russian children

The ban also affects singles from countries that recognize same-sex marriage

The move comes a year after Russia banned adoptions to the United States

Global scrutiny of anti-gay policies has grown leading up to Olympics in Sochi

CNN  — 

Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has signed a decree banning foreign same-sex couples – as well as single people from countries where same-sex marriages are legal – from adopting Russian children.

Though there was no official ban until now, foreigners’ attempts to adopt Russian children before the decree generally would be unsuccessful if a prospective adoptive parent was thought to be gay, international adoption agencies based in Russia have said. Same-sex marriage is illegal in Russia.

The decree was signed Monday and published on a government website Thursday. It went into effect Wednesday, state-funded television network Russia Today reported, but CNN couldn’t immediately confirm that.

The portion affecting singles appears to stem from concerns Russian lawmakers have publicly expressed that single prospective adoptive parents could turn out to be gay and enter a same-sex marriage in their home countries.

The ban would appear to affect citizens in the more than a dozen countries that allow same-sex marriage.

The move comes about a year after Russian lawmakers passed a bill banning adoptions to the United States. The move was widely seen as retaliation for a law the United States passed in 2012 on human rights abusers in Russia.

Protests of policies leading up to Olympics

It also comes amid criticism of the country’s anti-gay policies leading up to the Winter Olympic Games, which Russia is now hosting in Sochi.

Russia’s parliament passed what’s known as the gay propaganda law in June. The legislation makes it illegal to tell children about gay equality.

The law was widely criticized by Western leaders who called it archaic and discriminatory. Human rights activists said Russia was unworthy of hosting the Olympics because of it.

U.S. President Barack Obama stepped into the fray, saying at a White House news conference in August that “nobody’s more offended than me” by anti-gay legislation “you’ve been seeing in Russia.”

And Web search giant Google weighed in on the controversy with a rainbow Olympic-themed logo on its home page the day the Games started.

Before the Games, Russian President Vladimir Putin tried to downplay fears that gay visitors would be discriminated against during the Olympics.

Putin said Russia, unlike some other countries, does not criminalize homosexual relationships.

“We don’t outlaw anything and don’t nab anyone,” he said on a visit to Sochi weeks before the Games.

“That’s why you can feel safe and free here,” he added, “but please leave our children in peace.”

Is Russia about to pass another anti-gay law?

CNN’s Jason Hanna and Laura Smith-Spark contributed to this report.