The Metropolitan of Chisinau and All Moldova, has attacked gay marriage at a theological conference of globalisation challenges held in the country.

He said that equality between same-sex marriage and heterosexual marriage is contrary to “Christian convictions.”

The Metropolitan also expressed his conviction that politicians should be loyal to their faith above all other considerations.

“A genuine worshipper remains such both at home and at the job,” he said.

“He or she cannot take professional decisions contradicting to his or her religious convictions, and the so-called political loyalty marginalises religion, restricting it to the private life sphere only.”

95% of Moldovans are members of the Orthodox Church of Moldova, of which the Metropolitan is the head. The church remains within the Russian Orthodox Church.

Moldova is not part of the EU, but is influenced by its neighbour Romania, an EU member state since January 2007.

The small landlocked country of four million people gained independence from the Soviet Union in 1991.

Earlier this month the Parliamentary Assembly of of the Council of Europe (PACE) urged the Moldovan authorities “to ensure full respect of the fundamental rights of all minorities, including sexual minorities.”

The report of the monitoring committee about the honouring of obligations and commitments by Moldova was adopted by PACE earlier this month.

PACE rapporteurs have given over a large part of the report to violations of the right to freedom of assembly for LGBT people in Moldova.

In particular, the report states: “We deplore the fact that after a final ruling by the Supreme Court of Moldova the Chisinau authorities continue to violate the law and deprive the representatives of the LGBT community of their right to freedom of assembly.

“Such situation cannot be tolerated in a democratic state governed by the rule of law. We expect the Moldovan authorities to take all necessary measures to put an end to this practice.”

Around 20 activists attempted to march for gay rights in the Moldovan capital Chisinau last May.

People threw eggs at the gay Pride marchers, and the police stopped them from laying flowers at the Monument to the Victims of Repression.

A government committee had banned the march on the grounds that it could pose a public disorder threat, that it would promote sexual propaganda and that it would undermine Moldovan Christian values.

The decision was despite the ruling of the Moldovan Supreme Court last December that a previous ban on the LGBT Pride march was illegal.

It was the third year in a row that Moldovan authorities banned the gay Pride march in the capital.

Last month the country’s Supreme Court reiterated its previous position that the refusal by the Chisinau City Hall to authorise the march violates Moldovan law on the freedom of assembly, the Moldovan Constitution and the European Convention for Human Rights.

“We do not ask for special rights, but for equal rights,” said Alexei Marcicov, President of Molovan LGBT organisation Genderdoc-M in response to the PACE resolution.

“Prohibiting public manifestations for LGBT people is an act of direct discrimination, prohibited under international conventions Moldova is a party of.

“It is particularly appalling that the city authorities have neglected by now two decisions in our favour of the Supreme Court, causing us to seek justice in the European Court for Human Rights.”

The 47-member Council of Europe predates the EU.

It promotes and protects democracy, educational and sporting co-operation and created the European Court of Human Rights.

The UK delegation to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe was led by former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott.

He joined parliamentarians from all the assembly’s major political groups saying that any dialogue between cultures and religions must be based on mutual respect and tolerance.