(Photo: Reuters/Yana Lapikova)
The head of the Russian Orthodox Church has declared that the legal recognition of same-sex marriage is an "apocalyptic symptom" that should be combatted. Patriarch Kirill I of Moscow stated after a service held last Sunday at the Kazan Cathedral that same-sex marriage should never be sanctioned.
"This is a very dangerous apocalyptic symptom, and we must do everything in our powers to ensure that sin is never sanctioned in Russia by state law, because that would mean that the nation has embarked on a path of self-destruction," said Kirill. "We face enormous temptations when countries start approving sin and codifying it into law in order to justify it."
Kirill's words come as the Eastern European power continues to pass legislation meant to curb LGBT activism and homosexuality in general. Even as other European nations like France and the United Kingdom pass increasingly pro-gay legislation, over the past year Russia has gone in the opposite direction.
Last year, Russian courts ruled that permits for holding gay pride events were legally banned for the next one hundred years.
Since last month, President Vladimir Putin has signed into law bills that ban gay adoption and the dissemination of pro-gay literature to children. Reportedly Putin has also approved a measure allowing police to arrest tourists or foreign nationals suspected of being homosexual during the 2014 Winter Olympics.
Putin's efforts are hardly unpopular among Russians. The gay adoption ban passed the State Duma in a vote of 436 yeas to 0 nays, with one abstention.
Last month, Pew Research's Global Attitudes Project found that while oftentimes wealthier more secular countries tended to hold favorable views of homosexuality, Russia was one of the exceptions.
"Russia and China receive low scores on the religiosity scale, which would suggest higher levels of tolerance for homosexuality. Yet, just 16% of Russians and 21% of Chinese say homosexuality should be accepted by society," reads the Pew Forum report in part.
Harvey Fierstein, an actor and playwright critical of these actions in Russia, recently wrote an op-ed in the New York Times denouncing what he called an "Anti-Gay Crackdown."
"Nevertheless, the rest of the world remains almost completely ignorant of Mr. Putin's agenda. His adoption restrictions have received some attention, but it has been largely limited to people involved in international adoptions," wrote Fierstein. "With Russia about to hold the Winter Games in Sochi, the country is open to pressure. American and world leaders must speak out against Mr. Putin's attacks and the violence they foster. The Olympic Committee must demand the retraction of these laws under threat of boycott."