Russian Actor Ivan Okhlobystin Calls for Criminal Persecution of Gays

In an open letter to President Vladimir Putin, the actor suggests that a "sodomy" clause, which existed in the Soviet criminal code, be reinstated.

MOSCOW – Russian actor Ivan Okhlobystin, known for his intention to run for president two years ago and for recent homophobic remarks, has written an open letter to President Vladimir Putin, urging him to reintroduce criminal persecution of homosexuals, which existed in Soviet times.

In the letter, quoted by the Russian TV station NTV, Okhlobystin complained about the ineffectiveness of the law "against gay propaganda among minors," which was adopted last year, and called for stricter measures.

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"The existence of officially registered gay communities is direct advertising of homosexuality," reads the letter, in which the actor also suggested that criminal punishment for homosexuality should be reinstated by a national referendum.

According to Okhlobystin, urgent steps need to be made to avoid recognition of gay people as "a social group," which would give them "a constitutional opportunity to corrupt the younger generation."

There has been no official reaction to the letter from the Kremlin so far.

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Last month, Okhlobystin, who served as an Orthodox priest for almost 10 years before requesting to be defrocked in 2010 to resume his film career, recently made headlines in Russia when he made scathing homophobic remarks speaking in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk.

"I would put all the gays alive into an oven," he said.

A clause, under which "sodomy" was to be punished with a prison sentence of up to five years, was introduced to the Soviet criminal code in 1934 and was officially canceled in 1993.

Incidentally, Okhlobystin's call for reintroducing the clause came just a few days before the 90th birthday of renowned film director Sergei Parajanov, the best-known man convicted under the "sodomy" clause in the Soviet era, who was to be celebrated by Russian film fans and gay rights activists.