Russian President Vladimir Putin has used his annual state of the nation address to defend a controversial anti-gay law.

In his 70-minute televised speech delivered from an ornate Kremlin hall, Putin defended conservative values without naming the law which prohibits the promotion of “gay propaganda” to minors.

Putin said traditional family values had helped make Russia great and protected it against “so-called tolerance – genderless and infertile.”

“This destruction of traditional values from above not only entails negative consequences for society, but is also inherently anti-democratic, because it is based on an abstract notion and runs counter to the will of the majority of people,” Putin said.

Conservative values, Putin added, “prevents [society] from falling backward into chaotic darkness and the state of primitive man.”

Approval of the law provoked worldwide condemnation and calls for boycotts of Russian made imports and international events taking place in Russia, including the upcoming Winter Olympics in Sochi.

The AP reported that Putin's remarks were met with enthusiastic applause from an audience made up of lawmakers, judges and religious leaders.