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Saturday, 29 October 2011

Mocking cartoon draws Orthodox ire in Russia

By Paul Canning

Russian gays have upset the Orthodox church with a satirical cartoon. And not for the first time.

Last week I published on how the Northern Russian Arkhangelskaya Oblast [region] had passed a law banning 'gay propaganda' - outlawing support for LGBT human rights, the second region to do so and a move which the Russian Supreme Court has previously allowed. That story was also about the hypocrisy involved, with the former mayor of the capital, Arkhangelsk, Aleksandr Donskoi, saying that many politicians and business people in the city use the services of transsexual prostitutes.

That story was illustrated with the regional coat of arms, which shows the Archangel killing the Devil with a sword.

The cartoon published by GayRussia.ru mocking the ‘gay propaganda’ law reverses this, with the Devil - personifying homophobia - killing the Archangel.

Orthodox homophobes feel themselves insulted by such a “blasphemous, mocking cartoon”. This is the claim of the co-president of the “Narodnyi Sobor” movement, Oleg Kassin, in his letter to Russian General Attorney Yuri Chaika. Kassin wants the website closed down and its owners punished.

Apparently the cartoon “extremely disturbs Christians, humiliates their dignity and insults their feelings”.

The extreme religious nationalists group has used Russian law before to get artists fined. They have an English language website called 'deviant art' which well illustrates their nationalist politics

In 2007 they pushed for scientist Vitaly Ginzburg's prosecution for publicly criticizing the influence of the resurgent Orthodox Church in Russian schools

Fortunately, following previous online attacks which have shut down the website, GayRussia.ru is no longer physically located in Russia, so it can't be shut down by Russian authorities. However its owners are in Russia, so the threat to them is real.

The website has been here before. Another clerical nationalist group previously asked the authorities to investigate a cartoon published on the website picturing an orthodox priest and a neo-Nazi shaking hands.

That cartoon illustrated the sort of crowds which appear at violently anti-gay demonstrations, approved by the authorities in Russia when pro-gay rallies are banned, which call for the death of homosexuals, amongst other things.
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