Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed a bill which prohibits “gay propaganda” throughout Russia.

According to the AFP, Putin signed the bill into law on Saturday.

The measure is modeled after a law which took effect last year in St. Petersburg. St. Petersburg's law criminalizes “public actions aimed at propaganda of pederasty, lesbianism, bisexuality and transgenderism among minors.” It also bans public events that promote gay rights, such as Gay Pride parades and gay rights demonstrations.

It cleared the Federation Council last week and the Russian State Duma, the lower house, earlier in the month.

Yelena Mizulina, a coauthor of the bill, said it was was needed to protect children.

“[The bill prohibits] the spreading of information aimed at forming nontraditional sexual attitudes among children, attractiveness of nontraditional sexual relations, or a distorted perception of social equality between traditional and nontraditional sexual relations,” Mizulina is quoted by Reuters as telling colleagues. “Secondly, [it prohibits] the imposition of information about nontraditional sexual relations that may cause interest in them among children.”

Putin agreed, saying earlier this week: “We are talking about protecting children from the respective information.”

“We ask that [other countries] do not interfere in our regulation,” he added, responding to criticism from Western countries and human rights groups.

The push for a national law comes amid rising homophobia in Russia. Two men were brutally murdered allegedly over their sexual orientation in recent months.

(Related: Man tortured, murdered in Russia after coming out gay and Gay man murdered in Russia's Far East.)