Cape Town – The head of Russia’s Orthodox Church has seemingly blamed the invasion of Ukraine that has killed hundreds and displaced millions on LGBT+ Pride parades in Ukraine, according to international media reports.
According to Pink News.uk, for his “Forgiveness Sunday” sermon, Patriarch Kirill of Moscow backed the Russian-Ukraine war and said the bloodshed will decide “which side of God humanity will be on”.
“Pride parades are designed to demonstrate that sin is one variation of human behaviour. That’s why in order to join the club of those countries, you have to have a gay pride parade,” he said in a sermon, the Moscow Times reported.
Reports have also emerged that gay Africans, fleeing Ukraine, are facing “intersecting violence”, campaigners have warned.
According to Pink News, many fleeing Ukraine will seek asylum in “so-called safe countries, such as Poland, Hungary and Romania,” but “these are not safe countries for queer folk” due to anti-LGBTQIA+ laws and sentiment, said a report.
Kirill is a longtime ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin and has so far refrained from criticising the Russian invasion.
Citing a report by NDTV.com, Kirill said, “we have entered into a struggle that has not a physical, but a metaphysical significance,” he said, during the Forgiveness Sunday sermon.
Furthermore, homosexuality is disapproved of by most Russians, and same-sex couples and households headed by same-sex couples are ineligible for the legal protections available to heterosexual couples.
Russia provides no anti-discrimination protection for LGBT people, nor does it prohibit hate crimes based on sexual orientation and gender identity.
According to Global Equality.org, following the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, Russia liberalised some of its anti-LGBT laws. Most notably, homosexual relationships were decriminalised in 1993. Transgender Russians have also been allowed to change their legal gender on identity documents since 1997, although there are many obstacles to the process and invasive surgical requirements remain in place.
The global rights organisation further adds that despite these liberalisation trends during the immediate post-Soviet period, in recent years, Russian authorities have routinely denied permits for Pride parades, intimidated and arrested LGBTQIA+ activists and condoned anti-LGBTQIA+ statements by government officials.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, Russian president Vladimir Putin told reporters that sanctions imposed against Russia would rebound against the West, including in the form of higher food and energy prices, and Moscow would solve its problems and emerge stronger, according to news broadcaster Al Jazeera.
More than 2.5 million people have fled Ukraine since Russia launched its offensive over 12 days ago, according to the United Nations.