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Russian Orthodox church defrocks priest over gay wedding

October 6, 2003

MOSCOW — The Russian Orthodox Church has defrocked a priest for performing what media reports said was the country's first gay wedding in a church.

The church's Holy Synod ruled Monday to defrock the Rev.

Vladimir Enert for the wedding, which it called "blasphemy against the sacrament," the church said on its web site.

The September 1 wedding of Denis Gogolev and Mikhail Morozov in the Volga River city of Nizhny Novgorod was reported in the popular daily Komsomolskaya Pravda, complete with photographs of the ceremony. The church said the paper's reporter helped arrange the wedding by convincing another priest to give her the keys to the church.

The Holy Synod ruled to bar the second priest, the Rev. Mikhail Kabanov, from leading services, saying he was an accomplice. The church said the reporter, posing as a bride, had approached Kabanov with a young man, saying they needed to use the church for a wedding that the woman's parents opposed.

Gay sex was a crime in the Soviet Union, and homosexuality remains taboo in Russia, among churchgoers and nonbelievers alike. –Sapa-AFP

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