MOSCOW, January 30 (RIA Novosti) – A gay rights activist has said he will sue the flamboyant and outspoken star of Russia’s version of “Scrubs,” who has made headlines in recent weeks over a string of inflammatory homophobic statements.
Nikolai Bayev said in a post on his Facebook account Wednesday that he did not expect his suit against Ivan Okhlobystin to succeed in Russia, but that he hopes to take the case to the European Court of Human Rights.
Bayev seeks 30,000 rubles ($850) in damages, his lawyer Andrey Zaytsev said.
Okhlobystin reacted in typically combative fashion on Twitter.
“The very existence of the lawsuit offends my religious sentiment,” Okhlobystin wrote.
Offending the feelings of believers has since June been made a criminal offense in Russia, punishable by up to three years in prison.
Okhlobystin, 47, was embroiled in scandal last month after saying during a chat with fans that he would “put [gays] all alive in the oven… it’s a living danger to my children.”
The actor refused to apologize and later petitioned the Kremlin to ban “sodomy.” No response followed.
He was sacked as creative director of Yevroset mobile phone retailer over his gay-bashing.
But Okhlobystin got a similar job at clothes maker Baon within days.
Bayev said on Facebook that he has also requested the Prosecutor General’s Office open a case against the actor on extremism charges.
The vaguely worded “extremism” article of Russia’s Criminal Code is routinely used against Islamists, radical nationalists and, occasionally, outspoken opposition activists.
But it has never used against homophobes, Bayev said.
Okhlobystin, a father of six, starred in some 50 film projects before his current project, medical sitcom “Interns,” which was Russia’s most popular television show of 2012, according to pollster VTsIOM.
Okhlobystin is an Orthodox Christian priest suspended in service, a science fiction writer and an aspiring conservative politician.
His anti-gay remarks come against the backdrop of increasing public rhetoric and legislation seemingly aimed at marginalizing gay people from public life in Russia.
Russia has come under fierce international condemnation over a law passed in June banning the promotion of non-traditional sexual relations among minors. Rights activists say the legislation has prompted a rise in suicides among gay and transgender people in the country.
Authorities say the measure is part of efforts to promote traditional values and protect children from gay propaganda and is not aimed at discriminating against the LGBT community.