Keep up with the news by installing RT’s extension for . Never miss a story with this clean and simple app that delivers the latest headlines to you.

 

Celebrity ex-priest faces lawsuit over anti-gay statements

Published time: January 30, 2014 12:37
Ivan Okhlobystin (RIA Novosti/Vladimir Astapkovich)

Ivan Okhlobystin (RIA Novosti/Vladimir Astapkovich)

An LGBT activist is suing controversial Russian celebrity Ivan Okhlobystin, demanding an apology and monetary compensation over a speech in which the former priest said gays should be “thrown in a furnace while they are still alive.”

Nikolay Bayev claims in his lawsuit that he took the statement, made in the city of Novosibirsk in 2013, as a personal threat and that it “caused him feelings of fear, disturbance and inferiority.”

The plaintiff wants Okhlobystin to apologize before the whole LGBT community and also to pay him 30,000 rubles (about US$860) in moral damages. The lawsuit has been accepted by the Tushino District Court in Moscow where Bayev lives, and the first hearing into the case is scheduled for February 17.

In addition, Bayev filed an official request to the prosecutor’s office asking to charge his opponent with extremism, but so far there has been no official reaction.

In press comments on this move, the LGBT activist noted that he had little hope of winning the case in a Russian court. The real objective is to exhaust the appeals process at home and take the lawsuit to the European Court of Human Rights.

Okhlobystin tweeted about the lawsuit, expressing surprise that such things as a court battle between a gay person and a priest can take place in Russia. He also threatened Bayev with a retaliatory lawsuit, claiming the whole situation insults his religious feelings (a criminal offense in Russia since 2013 punishable by up to three years in jail).

The defendant also insisted that his statement was not a call for violence, but rather his personal opinion, and said that he was not planning to participate in the process as priests can only do this after approval from the Patriarch.

Nikolay Baev (Photo from www.facebook.com/nikiprok)

He did not explain how he was so sure such approval would never be granted and Church officials have not made any comments since the news broke.

It should be noted that Okhlobystin was banned from service a few years ago on his own request so that he could work as an actor. Since then he starred in several and a comedy series and also found a job as a creative director in a major mobile retailer. However, the retailer sacked Okhlobystin after a recent scandal that also arose from his anti-gay statements – in early January this year he posted an open letter to the Russian authorities urging a nationwide referendum on criminalizing male homosexuality.

The letter caused a wave of indignation in the public and mass media, although the idea also received some support.

The Russian Orthodox Church was among the backers, with the head of the Holy Synod’s Department for Relations with the Community, Vsevolod Chaplin, saying in a press interview that gay relations between men posed a threat to society, and their criminalization “deserved discussion in society without any doubt.”

The senior cleric added that since Russia is a democratic country, the majority of its people and not some “external forces” must decide what constitutes a criminal offence and what does not.

However, President Vladimir Putin dismissed the possibility of such discourse in a recent TV interview, stressing that Russia is a secular state and such initiatives were unlikely to gain any momentum.

Comments (24)

 

Leslie 17.04.2014 10:02

slo much for freedom of speech or freedom of religion all for freedom of perversion.

 

Dmitrij Sosnov 02.04.2014 14:28

christian durr 08.02.2014 06:17

scientific research shows the biggest homophobes are actually gay themselves and cannot accept who they are.

  


In your perverse logic:
scientifi c research shows the biggest anti-fascist are actually fascist themselves and cannot accept who they are.

 

Smaug 02.04.2014 13:35

Luke 03.02.2014 22:07


Homo sexuality is found in over 450 species. Homophobia is found in only one. Which one seems unnatural now?

  


Anacondas have orgies and butterflies are pedofiles.... Why are you comparing animals and humans ? Homophobia is the right of a person to say, hey pal...keep your hands away from me... I am not like you. what is so unnatural in that ?

View all comments (24)
Add comment

Authorization required for adding comments

Register or

Name

Password

Show password

Register

or Register

Request a new password

Send

or Register

To complete a registration check
your Email:

OK

or Register

A password has been sent to your email address

Edit profile

X

Name

New password

Retype new password

Current password

Save

Cancel

Follow us

Follow us