Russia’s Orthodox Church: Criminalize Gay Sex
Leaders of Russia's powerful Orthodox Church announced their support Friday for a referendum that would criminalize gay sex, the Agence France-Presse reports.
The church's unexpected announcement came while the Kremlin was debating whether or not Russia should pass stronger laws to protect the country's traditional and conservative values, which have come under fire from the United States and Europe, the AFP notes.
According to the church's spokesman Vsevolod Chaplin, polls show that more than half of Russian citizens believe being gay is an illness or a crime. Chaplin says this is a sign that Russia should go back to its Soviet-era ban on gay sex.
"There is no question that society should discuss this issue since we live in a democracy," Chaplin told the online version of the pro-government Izvestia Daily. "For this reason, it is precisely the majority of our people and not some outside powers that should decide what should be a criminal offence [sic] and what should not."
The church's comments come shortly after popular Russian actor and businessman Ivan Okhlobystin took the Internet to urge Russian President Vladimir Putin to bring back a law that would criminalize sodomy. Okhlobystin, know for his role on "Interns," the Russian version of "Scrubs," wrote on Tuesday that if Putin doesn't bring back the law, it would give "sodomites...a Constitutional opportunity to defile the young generation."
The actor first made international headlines last year when he spewed controversial and violent remarks about the LGBT community in Russia.
"I myself would shove all live gays into a furnace," Okhlobystin, 47, said at a "spiritual talks" event in Novosibirsk, Russia, on Dec. 8. "This is Sodom and Gomorrah, I as a believer in God can not treat this indifferently, this is a live threat to my kids!... I do not want my kids to think that faggots are normal. This is lavender fascism. If a person can not choose someone of an opposite sex for procreation -- this is an overt sign of mental abnormality, so they should be denied of voting rights."
Okhlobystin isn't only an actor, however. He's also the creative director for Euroset, Russia's largest cell phone distributor. But more than 15 LGBT groups came together this week to urge Apple CEO Tim Cook to break ties with the companyk, citing Okhlobystin's anti-gay comments.
If the proposed measure is passed, Russia would join India which recently re-criminalized same-sex intercourse in December 2013.