Russia: Tourists Arrested, Orthodox Priest Says Marriage Equality Signals 'Apocalypse'

By Sunnivie Brydum

Originally published on Advocate.com July 22 2013 3:39 PM ET

The head of the Russian Orthodox Church told parishioners Sunday that marriage equality will destroy the world. 

"This is a very dangerous sign of the apocalypse," said Patriarch Kirill in Moscow's Red Square on Sunday, according to News.com.au. "It means people are choosing the a path of self-destruction."

The Russian Orthodox priest also noted his support for President Vladimir Putin's recently enacted ban on "homosexual propaganda."

Four Dutch tourists were arrested in northern Russia this weekend for allegedly violating that law while participating in a "Youth Human Rights Camp" that discussed LGBT issues, reports Russian news outlet Lenta. The Holland natives were released without being charged on Sunday, but are apparently the first to be jailed over the nationwide ban, which Putin signed into law last month. 

A Google translation of the Lenta report claims Russian immigration officials charged the group with violating its stated reason for being in the country — getting acquainted with local culture — when in fact the group was filming a documentary about LGBT life in the town of Murmansk. Lenta notes that Russian officials seized the filmmakers' footage, alleging that the team interviewed an LGBT teenager who was 17.

The Dutch filmmakers, one of whom leads a Dutch LGBT group, conversely told the BBC the youth in question told them he was 18 when he agreed to be filmed. The BBC also reports that each visitor was fined 3,000 rubles ($93 USD) for violating visa rules.

Russia's strict, broad-ranging "propaganda" ban prohibits the "promotion of non-traditional sexual relations" to minors, and imposes steep fines and possible jail time for any individual, organization, public official, or media outlet that discusses LGBT identity in any way.