The Russian Orthodox Church has defrocked a priest for conducting the country’s first reported gay wedding.
From BBC News Europe, 04.09.03
Church authorities in the city of Nizhny Novgorod, east of Moscow, said the ceremony was a blasphemous act and a gimmick to attract public attention to single-sex unions.
“The Russian Orthodox Church is against single-sex marriages and condemns homosexual relations as a deadly sin,” the diocese press service said in a statement.
Misha and I want to show that gays can and should live in Russia, and quite openly
A spokesman for the diocese described the priest who conducted the service, Father Vladimir, as a “black sheep”.
Partners Denis Gogolev and Misha Morozov have described the ceremony, which took place on Monday, as the first ever gay church wedding in Russia.
“Misha and I want to show that gays can and should live in Russia, and quite openly,” Mr Gogolev said.
They took their vows in a small chapel, exchanging rings, circling the altar and donning crowns as in a traditional Orthodox wedding.
Newspaper reports said there was some confusion during the service, with the priest asking who was the husband and who was the wife.
Mr Gogolev replied that they did not mind and both wished to be considered “spouses”.
Homosexual relations between men were considered a crime in Soviet times.
They were legalised in 1993 – though a group of members of the Russian parliament last year tried to reverse the move in what they said was a campaign to restore traditional moral values.
The Russian Orthodox Church also opposes euthanasia, abortion and artificial insemination.
A priest who conducts a gay wedding could face excommunication, Father Alexander of the Nizhny Novgorod diocese told the Reuters news agency.
Both the men married by Father Vladimir are standing in December’s parliamentary elections.
They are putting their hopes in the female vote.
“Women love and respect us,” Denis said. “They even idolise us.”