Former presidential candidate Ivan Okhlobystin tells Novosibirsk audience that all homosexuals should be burned alive
A Russian actor best known for announcing a run for his country's presidency two years ago has stated that he would like to put all gay people "in the oven".
Ivan Okhlobystin, a popular star with fiercely conservative views, told an audience in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk that all homosexuals should be burned alive. According to the newspaper Komsomolskaya Pravda, in comments translated by the Hollywood Reporter, Okhlobystin also compared homosexuality with fascism.
"I would put all the gays alive into an oven," the one-time Orthodox priest has been quoted as saying. "This is Sodom and Gomorrah! As a religious person, I cannot be indifferent about it because it is a real threat to my children!"
Okhlobystin later tweeted to confirm his comments. "The meaning was rendered correctly," he said. "Everyone has the right to express their opinions."
Russian gay groups condemned the comments. Moscow-based activist Nikolay Alexeyev told radio station RSN that Okhlobystin's remarks amounted to incitement of hatred towards homosexuals and could see the actor banned from "civilised countries". He said: "Lately, [Russian] public figures have gone out of their way, competing with each other in their homophobia."
Russia has introduced stringent laws banning the exposure of "gay propaganda" to minors. The country has seen intolerant attitudes towards LGBT groups increasingly become part of the mainstream. In November, the Palme D'Or-winning director Gus van Sant travelled to St Petersburg's Bok o Bok (Side by Side) film festival to show his support for the gay community after the event was targeted by Russia's anti-gay campaigners.
Okhlobystin rose to fame in the late 1990s but retired from acting to join the priesthood following a religious conversion. In 2010 he announced his return to the big screen, and he has since provided voice work for the Russian dub of Oscar-winning animation Rango. Two years ago he announced his intention to run for the presidency, but failed to hand in the relevant forms.
The actor's latest voice turn is as a mean troll named Orm in the Russian animation The Snow Queen. Orm works for the titular evil villain, who aims to create a new world where clean lines replace emotions, all art has been destroyed and the polar wind cools human souls.
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