Ahead of the 2014 Winter Olympics, Sochi Mayor Anatoly Pakhomov has claimed that there are no gay people in the city. He was commenting on the controversy surrounding Russia's anti-gay propaganda law and the treatment of LGBT people.
"No, we just say that it is your business, it's your life. But it's not accepted here in the Caucasus where we live. We do not have them in our city," Pakhomov said when asked by BBC Panorama about whether gay people need to hide their sexual orientation in the Russian city.
He added that gay people are welcome at the Winter Olympics, as long as they respect the country's laws and "don't impose their habits on others." more >>
A container that holds some of the blood of the late Pope John Paul II has been stolen from a church in Italy.
Franca Corrieri told Reuters she called the police after discovering a broken window at the church of San Pietro della Ienca early Sunday morning. Corrieri serves as a custodian of the church, which is located east of Rome in the mountains of Abruzzo near the city of L'Aquila.
When they entered the building they discovered that a crucifix and the gold case that holds the blood were missing. Dozens of police officers and some sniffer dogs then swarmed the area to search for clues. more >>
The British Museum has put on display a 4,000-year-old Cuneiform tablet that recounts specific instructions for building a giant vessel to survive a coming flood, and how it should house animals "two by two." The tablet, hailing from ancient Mesopotamia, or modern-day Iraq, has been dubbed a prototype of Noah's ark described in the Bible.
The tablet, which gives instruction for making a round vessel known as a coracle, went on display at the British Museum in London on Friday, thanks to the efforts of Irving Finkel, who works in the museum's Middle East department and is credited with translating the tablet.
Finkel, who has written on the discovery in his new book, The Ark Before Noah, told reporters last week that the museum acquired the tablet years ago from a man who said his father had gotten ahold of the artifact after World War II. more >>
Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair says religious extremism is the root cause of terrorist attacks today and it needs to be fought with education and tolerance.
Citing examples of recent terror attacks in the Middle East, Africa and central and southeast Asia, Blair wrote in an op-ed for Britain's Observer newspaper that "there is one thing self-evidently in common: the acts of terrorism are perpetrated by people motivated by an abuse of religion. It is a perversion of faith."
Unlike in the previous century, the battles of the 21st century are less likely to be the product of extreme political ideology, he says, "but they could easily be fought around the questions of cultural or religious difference." more >>
Just days after Russian President Vladimir Putin praised Sir Elton John "despite his orientation," the music icon said he wants to show the Russian leader how the country's controversial law that seeks to protect children from gay "propaganda" is dangerous to LGBT people.
Recounting his positive experiences performing in Russia since 1979, the world famous singer-songwriter posted a statement on his official website concerning the controversy around the anti-propaganda law signed by Putin last year, which makes it illegal for anyone to spread information about the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community to minors.
"It was very clear to me that, although foreigners like myself who are visiting Russia are not affected by this new law (and President Putin has recently confirmed this), it is a very different story for those living inside the country," John wrote. more >>
Pope Francis said in a papal statement Thursday that the Internet is a "gift from God" that brings humanity closer together, thus promoting universal solidarity.
"A culture of encounter demands that we be ready not only to give, but also to receive," Francis said in the papal statement released Thursday. "Media can help us greatly in this, especially nowadays, when the networks of human communication have made unprecedented advances. The Internet, in particular, offers immense possibilities for encounter and solidarity."