President Vladimir Putin on Wednesday signed a law banning gay and lesbian couples in foreign countries from adopting Russian children.

The measure was one of a series adopted by Russian authorities in recent weeks that have been slammed by civil rights leaders as discriminatory.

The Kremlin said in a statement that "the measure is aimed at guaranteeing a harmonious and full upbringing for children in adoptive families".

It also bans adoption by unmarried individuals who live in countries with laws permitting same-sex marriages.

The Kremlin-backed measure was quickly rammed through parliament after the adoption of same-sex marriage laws by countries such as France and plans for referenda on the subject by nations such as Ireland.