Russia

Russia's Orthodox Church Calls for Recriminalizing Gay Sex

Powerful influence on the country

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Russia's powerful Orthodox Church proposed Friday a referendum on banning gay relations in the face of Western pressure over human rights ahead of next month's Winter Olympics in Sochi.

The Church's abrupt intervention came amid a growing debate over whether the Kremlin should mount a firmer defence of traditional values that many in the overwhelmingly conservative country view as coming under attack from Europe and the United States.

Church spokesman Vsevolod Chaplin pointed to polls showing more than half of Russians viewing homosexuality as either an illness or a crime as a sign that the country was ready to revert to a Soviet-era homosexual ban.