March 6, 2015 / 5:43 PM / 4 years ago

Putin ally says society should resist gay activism

GENEVA (Reuters) - Traditional family values need to be supported against activism by the gay minority, and the idea that gays were suppressed in Russia was “a trick”, a close ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin said on Friday.

Vladimir Yakunin, President of Russian Railways, speaks during the Gaidar Forum 2015 "Russia and the World: New Dimensions" in Moscow, January 15, 2015. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

“We should not rape nature because of ideological, political or individual preferences,” said Russian Railways boss Vladimir Yakunin, who was hosting a conference in Geneva to promote his foundation, the Endowment for St Andrew the First Called.

A brochure from the conference, on the “sanctity of motherhood”, called for “socially responsible media” to resist attempts to redefine the family, which it said were “an irresponsible manipulation of the most profound parts of the human nature”.

Asked if he was afraid of gays or of an open debate about gay marriage, Yakunin drew applause and shouts of “bravo” from the audience with his response.

“Practically, if Reuters, or yourself, will show me the man who gave birth to a child, then the question is obsolete,” he said.

Supporting families had nothing to do with oppression of gay minorities, he said, but was a reaction to activists who cross the line from personal life into political and social activism.

“We all know that in political life it is not the majority that is actually creating regimes and states and rule them,” he said. “Through the history of mankind, we know that active minorities were actually the rulers of the systems.

“It is extremely important to point out that it is just a trick to say that gays are suppressed – it is not true. It is just not true.”

Asked if his support for “socially responsible media” meant that the French newspaper Charlie Hebdo should not have printed satirical cartoons of the Prophet Mohammad, Yakunin noted that Charlie Hebdo had also printed cartoons satirizing Orthodox Christianity, which he said was “bad culture”.

“And of course when people rushed to the street, they were against the killing, they were protesting against terrorism, but they were maybe not supportive of everything that was published.”

He did not comment on the many people who had brandished the “Je suis Charlie” slogan in solidarity after the violence in January, which began when two Islamist gunmen burst into Charlie Hebdo’s Paris offices.

“My opinion is no action can be answered with the killing of a person, full stop,” Yakunin said.

Reporting by Tom Miles; Editing by Larry King

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