A Russian TV channel has offered free one-way tickets out of the country for gay “perverts”.
Tsargrad TV, a conservative religious TV channel with ties to Vladimir Putin, aimed to ruffle feathers with an offer feeding in to anti-LGBT sentiment in Russia.
The channel, which often aggressively targets gay people in Russia, posted: “Not a day goes by that Tsargrad TV is not accused of an aggressive attitude towards the Sodomites.
“With this in mind, we’re taking up an initiative to make life easier for members of the LGBT community.
“If you are gay and wish to leave Russia, our channel will with great pleasure buy you a one way ticket.
“Recently the most liberal state in the US – California – offered green cards for Sodomites from Russia. In order to help the move, we’ll offer to pay for everyone wishing to get a ticket. Of course, one way.
“We really want to help you get over there, where you can indulge your immorality, since living in Russia is so unbearable.
“To do this, you must have a medical certificate, which confirms the sodomy or other forms of perversion, and confirmation you intend to leave the country.
In an attached video, titled “Good riddance, sodomites”, TV anchor Andrei Afanasyev encourages “men who lie with men” to get in touch to leave the country.
He insists: “This is not a joke. We really want you to leave, so you can openly submit to your sins.”
Of course, given the sarcastic and homophobic tone of the message, and the network’s extreme anti-LGBT bent, it is unlikely to actually be a genuine offer to help anyone.
It is not possible to obtain a medical certificate confirming sexual orientation because there is no recognised medical test for homosexuality.
The demands that gay people leave Russia come after a suspected homophobic ‘purge’ in the region of Chechnya, which was enabled by political and religious authorities.
Russia maintains a law which bans “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relationships” towards minors.
The law also bans people sharing “distorted ideas about the equal social value of traditional and non-traditional sexual relationships”, and has been widely abused in the country to clamp down on the LGBT community as a whole.
In a ruling earlier this month, the European Court of Human Rights found the law to be in breach of freedom of expression protections, as well as ruling that it “reinforces stigma and prejudice and encouraged homophobia”.
Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov fired back: “On LGBT, we do not prosecute for this or that orientation.
“Many people have been complaining… I want to state once again what we have repeatedly stated: we have no persecution for any orientation in one area or another, including orientation in the sphere of LGBT.
“The only thing we don’t want and therefore ban by our law is the imposition of sexual orientations on underage citizens of Russia. Nothing more.”
In a separate statement, the Russian Justice vowed to appeal the ruling.
In a statement, the department said the law was solely designed “to defend morality and children’s health”, and did not impact freedom of expression.
The law has been used to call for everything from Pride events to video games to be banned.
Last year, Russian MPs called for football video game FIFA 17 to be banned because it allowed players to take part in the rainbow laces campaign.