Sergei Lavrov
Russia\'s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov rejected criticism of a proposed anti-gay law (Reuters)

Russia's foreign minister, Sergey Lavrov, has rejected criticism over controversial legislation that would outlaw "homosexual propaganda" and said the bill would protect the majority of Russians from discrimination by gays and lesbians.

Lavrov was replying to accusations by Dutch foreign minister Frans Timmermans, who claimed the bill violated internationally recognised human rights.

"[Russia] has its own moral, religious and historical values," Lavrov said.

"We don't want reverse discrimination to occur - when one group of citizens has the right to aggressively promote their values that run against those shared by the majority of society and impose them on children."

The bill outlaws "propaganda of sodomy, lesbianism, bisexuality and transgenderism" targeted at minors.

Acts of open same-sex affection, even a kiss, and events promoting gay rights will result in fines of up to 500,000 roubles (£11,000) under the new legislation.

A first reading of the proposed law was approved by the Russian duma in January. LGBT activists scuffled with Orthodox Christians supporting the law outside the parliament building.

"Discrimination against homosexuals is unacceptable. Gay rights are human rights and Russia must adhere to its international obligations," Timmermans said earlier in February.

"We don't have a single international or common European commitment to allow propaganda of homosexuality," Lavrov replied.

Russia decriminalised homosexuality in 1993 but episodes of homophobia are not unusual.

"[Since 1993, homosexuals] can go about their business absolutely freely and unpunished," Lavrov said.

The bill has to undergo two more readings in the lower house and then be referred to the upper house and President Vladimir Putin before it can be enacted.