Take your time to answer….
Gay Britons living in Russia, China and Serbia are now be able get married in the British consulate
Same sex marriages can take place in the British consulates of more than 20 countries where the ceremonies are not legal including Russia, Azerbaijan, Serbia and Hungary.
The Foreign Office has opened the doors of its missions to British nationals and their partners who wish to wed but are unable to under foreign laws.
Chris Bryant, the former Foreign office minister and openly gay Labour MP, said he hoped the move would be “celebrated” in countries like Russia where homosexuals face prejudice and persecution.
In June last year Vladimir Putin, the Russian President, signed into law a bill punishing people for homosexual “propaganda”.
The law imposed fines on those who disseminate information aimed at minors ‘directed and forming non-traditional sexual set-up’, or which may cause a ‘distorted understanding’ that gay and heterosexual relationships are equal.
Activists and celebrities have repeatedly called on Mr Putin to repeal the law but to no avail, while there were also calls to boycott the Winter Olympics in Sochi earlier this year.
Mr Bryant said: “Part of the Foreign Office’s job is to export British values abroad. Just as people have been able to perform civil partnerships in countries like Australia, Russia and Iran, so now they can get married.
“Russia is meant to be a signatory top the European Convention of human rights. I hope that when they start seeing gay and lesbian couples getting married in the British consulate in Moscow they will celebrate rather than denigrate and persecute.
“There are many countries in the world where there is prejudice and active persecution against LGBT people. All too often the state and the church is complicit.”
The Foreign Office said that it is offering same-sex marriages in 23 countries where same sex marriage is not legal and “local authorities” have given permission for the ceremonies to be carried out.
Ruth Hunt, acting Chief Executive of Stonewall, said: “This is a really positive step forward for same sex couples around the world.
“We look forward to a day when every single country will recognise these relationships in exactly the same way as marriages of heterosexual people.”
However, she pointed out that the marriages are not recognised under foreign law meaning that same-sex couples are denied many of the benefits of marriage.
* Same sex marriages can now take place in the British consulates of Australia, Azerbaijan, Bolivia, Cambodia, Chile, China, Colombia, Costa Rica, Dominican Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Japan, Kosovo, Latvia, Mongolia, Montenegro, Nicaragua, Peru, Philippines, Russia, San Marino, Serbia, and Vietnam.
And now, about the Church’s role in Russia, a good read. More defense of the traditional, the conservative, defense of Western Civ, if I may.
The search for an identity that began after the collapse of Communism remains a critical question for Russians. The Orthodox Church is the only institution that unites Russians with their “near abroad” and has survived throughout the country’s long history. Today, the state needs the church much more than vice-versa.
When foreigners convert to Orthodoxy, more often than not it is because they are impressed by the splendour and majesty of Russian liturgy.
They appreciate that strict Orthodox priests do not connive at human weaknesses or play up to the individual, accustomed to indulgence. They are attracted by the centuries-old spiritual tradition, which is inevitably conservative and inflexible but all the stronger for that.
It stands in stark contrast to the “flexibility” of Western Churches adapting to changing circumstances, which in many ways has left them today in a “social ghetto”.
The Russian faith, like the Russian revolution and like life in Russia itself, never condescends to the individual.
In the 20 years since the collapse of the Soviet system, the Russian Church has been rebuilt from ruins inhabited by shuffling old women and somewhat eccentric zealots into the most powerful body on the post-Soviet stage.
No other Russian social institution has experienced such a rising from the ashes. And no other country has seen such an obvious revival of faith as has occurred in Russia…
It is not the Church which has sought union with the state in recent years. Rather it is the state that has been eager to demonstrate its loyalty to the Church – and perhaps to seek its counsel.
It turned out that after the collapse of the Soviet Union only one institution – the Church – had ideas, understanding of what was happening and vision.
Russia is in search of its identity. It needs to re-establish key reference points that were lost in the Soviet period. And the Church, while not calling for the past to be restored, relies on traditional values that underpinned the life of Russian people for centuries, whether they were Christians, Muslims or adherents of other faiths.
When Patriarch Kirill is addressing believers he often uses the concept of Holy Russia. This is not simply a historical reference.
Today the Church is the only thing that binds together the peoples of Russia, Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova, as well as a number of other countries, despite their conflicts and squabbles – the only thing that makes them feel they are a single and indissoluble whole, a part of that spiritual and cultural space which is Russian Orthodox civilisation.
The Patriarch’s active stance on the post-Soviet scene is not Great Power nostalgia; it underlines his devotion to the common identity of Orthodoxy, which has no national or state borders…