Russian Activist Sues Actor Over 'Burn Gays Alive' Comment
A Russian LGBT activist has filed a lawsuit against a popular sitcom star in the nation who has recently made headlines for a string of violently antigay comments.
Nikolai Bayev announced the lawsuit against Russian actor Ivan Okhlobystin on his Facebook page Wednesday, according to Kremlin-backed news agency RIA Novosti.
Bayev reportedly acknowledged that he did not expect his lawsuit to succeed in Russian courts, but he hopes to ultimately bring the case before the European Court of Human Rights. Nevertheless, Beyev is seeking 30,000 rubles in damages, which equates to roughly $850, according to RIA Novosti.
In December, Okhlobystin, who stars in a popular sitcom loosely based on the American medical comedy Scrubs, told a gathering of fans at a spiritual event that he considered gay people a threat to his children, and because of that would "put them all alive in the oven." His additional comments that gay people are a danger to his six children and should be stripped of their rights to vote reportedly garnered overwhelming applause.
In January, Okhlobystin, a defrocked Orthodox priest, asked Russian president Vladimir Putin to reinstate a Soviet-era law that made same-sex sexual relations punishable by imprisonment. The actor contended that Russia's nationwide ban on "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" in venues accessible to minors did not go far enough to protect his six children from the scourge of homosexuality.
Okhlobystin responded to Bayev's announcement by proclaiming on Twitter that "the very existence of this lawsuit offends my religion sentiment," which RIA Novosti points out may be an effort to challenge the activist under another national law Russia passed last summer that protects religious people's feelings. Those convicted of violating the law face up to three years in prison.
RIA Novosti notes that Beyev also filed a petition with the Prosecutor General's office asking the agency tot investigate Okhlobystin's "extremism," which is vaguely defined and prohibited in Russia's criminal code. But even in announcing that petition, Beyev reportedly acknowledged that the "extremism" article has never been used against those who espouse antigay beliefs, instead generally being exercised against "Islamists, radical nationalists, and, occasionally, outspoken opposition activists," according to RIA Novosti.