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Pro-LGBT American Pastor Expelled From Russia

Jim Mulcahy
Jim Mulcahy

Jim Mulcahy was arrested after police heard he planned to conduct a same-sex marriage.

An American pastor, under suspicion of preaching a pro-LGBT message, was expelled from Russia.

Jim Mulcahy, a 72-year-old native of Boston, was arrested in the city of Samara earlier this month, after police heard he planned to conduct a same-sex marriage, reports the Associated Press.

The pastor reportedly experienced maltreatment at the hands of Russian authorities. Mulcahy claimed he was interrogated without his attorney in the room, and an interpreter brought in for the questioning spoke limited English. Mulcahy was also denied medication for prostate cancer and diabetes during his eight-hour detainment.

After groups like The Russian LGBT Network and Mulcahy's nephew from Florida demanded his release, a Russian judge reviewed Mulcahy's case. He was found in violation of his visa, fined $30, and ordered to leave the country within five days.

"I wasn't afraid; I felt like this was something I had to endure," Mulcahy told the AP in a phone interview from Ukraine.

Mulcahy is the Eastern Europe coordinator for the Metropolitan Community Church, an international Protestant demonination known for being inclusive of LGBT people. Its gay founder, Troy Perry, officiated the first public same-sex marriage in the United States.

Mulcahy said he did not intend on performing a same-sex marriage, and pushing for marriage equality was not a part of his mission in Eastern Europe. He had been invited to Samira by the LGBT group Avers, who had asked him to participate in a Q&A after learning Mulcahy was in Russia.

Reporters with the state-controlled television network NTV, which filmed Mulcahy's arrest, painted a different picture. They questioned Mulcahy's validity as a religious leader and alleged he gave seminars "in addition to performing unspecified ceremonies for homosexuals," as the AP noted.

In 2013 Russia passed a nationwide ban on so-called gay propaganda, which prohibits Pride celebrations and any other promotion of "non-traditional sexual relationships" in front of minors. A recently passed law, which does not apply to members of the Russian Orthodox Church, also limits where and how missionaries can spread the message of their faith.

In response to Mulcahy's arrest and expulsion, Avers installed additional security measures. Vera Bochkareva, a spokesperson, told the AP they were concerned about threats and even physical violence from police.

"We're worried because LGBT organizations are getting labeled as foreign agents or even physically attacked," Bochkareva said. "Groups like ours are in a relationship crisis with the authorities."

Despite his ordeal, Mulcahy said he would be glad to return to Russia. His experiences with "the hospitality of the Russian people" favorably changed his views.

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