Head of Russian Orthodox Church compares same-sex marriage to Nazism

Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church, by far the most popular and influential religion in the country, has compared same-sex marriage to Nazism.

Patriarch Kirill, who is close to President Putin, was in Kyrgyzstan promoting one of his books when he said that “so-called homosexual marriages” were a threat to family values.

He added: “When laws are detached from morality they cease being laws people can accept,” comparing the legislation to the sort enacted in Nazi Germany.

Kirill was presenting his book, ironically named Freedom and Responsibility: A Search for Harmony – Human Rights and Personal Dignity, at the Kyrgyz-Russian Slavic University.

He told the audience that “people have revolted against” same-sex marriage “for the same reason that people rebelled against fascist laws and against apartheid laws.

“The laws break with morality,” he added, according to Russian news outlet RIA Novosti.

Equal marriage may make “breaking the connection between freedom and moral responsibility, between law and moral principle viable,” Kirill said.

He also recalled that “millions” had protested against the decision in France in 2013 to make same-sex marriage legal, which is false – up to 150,000 marched against the law.

Kirill’s outburst comes at a time when Russia has received condemnation for its reaction to the gay purge in Chechnya, where gay men have been detained, tortured and murdered.

New French President Emmanuel Macron was the latest to raise LGBT rights and Chechnya specifically with Putin, in a tense first meeting with the Russian President yesterday.

Kirill, who has held the highest position in the church since 2009, has a long history of virulent anti-gay rhetoric, repeatedly speaking out against same-sex marriage specifically.

In 2013, he said same-sex marriage was a sign of the apocalypse, referring to it as “a very dangerous and apocalyptic symptom” that tells him “people are on the path of self-destruction.”

Kirill, who has previously described Putin as a “miracle from God,” also signed a joint statement with the Pope last year, speaking out against same-sex marriage.

Last year, Kirill blamed gay pride for the rise of so-called Islamic State, speculating that some joined the terrorist group because they were “honest people” joining because of “truly religious grounds”.

The Russian Orthodox Church has been a key supporter of Russia’s anti-gay law, and Kirill has maintained the Church’s view that homosexuality is a sin – although he has cautioned against punishing people for their sexuality.

In 2009, he told the Council of Europe, a pan-European human rights body: “Those who commit a sin must not be punished”.

He added: “We have repeatedly spoken out against discriminating people for their nontraditional sexual orientation.”