The head of the Russian Orthodox Church has condemned the legalization of same-sex marriages as a sign of "the coming of the apocalypse."
Patriarch Kirill made the statement during his Sunday service at the Kazan Cathedral on Red Square.
By legalizing gay marriages, governments in mostly Western countries justify "a choice in favor of sin," Kirill said, Interfax reported.
He criticized governments that prevent people who oppose same-sex marriage from showing their opposition.
"Those who are true to their conscience in fighting these minority-imposed laws are subject to repression," he said. "It's a very dangerous sign of the apocalypse."
"And we must do everything so that the law never endorses sin in Holy Russia because that would mean that the people are on the path of self-destruction."
Kirill also spoke in support of a ban promoting homosexuality that President Vladimir Putin signed into law on June 30.
The bill comes into force six months before Russia hosts the 2014 Winter Olympic Games and allows police to levy fines and arrest foreign tourists if they have reason to suspect them of being "pro-gay."
Authorities routinely ban gay-rights parades and activists have often come under attack.