Love is stronger than homophobia - Russian
'Love is stronger than homophobia' reads the sign held up by an arrested gay rights activist in Moscow shortly after the 'gay propaganda' bill was passedGetty

More than half of Russians want gay people either 'liquidated' or rejected from society, according to a poll. The hardening of homophobic attitudes comes in the wake of the Russian government's 'gay propaganda' legislation.

The poll, carried out independent pollsters the Levada Centre, found that 21% of Russians want members of the LGBT community 'liquidated', while 37% argued that they should be separated from society.

The poll is the latest of a series conducted since 1989 charting Russians' views towards minorities. As part of a series of liberalising reforms in the 1990s, homosexuality was legalised in 1993, and five years later removed from a list of mental disorders. A 1999 poll found that only 15% wanted gay people liquidated, and 23% thought they should be ostracised. This was a significant reduction from the 63% who thought homosexuals should be liquidated or ostracised in 1989, the year of the fall of Soviet communism.

Under the presidency of Vladimir Putin, attitudes towards homosexuals have become increasingly negative. In a poll carried out in May, 37% of Russians told the centre that they believed homosexuality is a disease that needs treating.

In December, Human Rights Watch accused Russian authorities of ignoring rising homophobic violence. "Russian law enforcement agencies have the tools to prosecute homophobic violence, but they lack the will to do so," said Russia researcher Tanya Cooper.

Under Russia's 'gay propaganda' laws, which were passed in 2013, it is illegal to provide those under 18 with information on same-sex relationships.