Russian Vanguard, an ultra-religious monarchist group, has picketed the Kaliningrad concert of performer Boris Moiseyev because he is openly gay.

The extreme nationalist group said it would not target the singer’s fans, as not all of them are gay, but restated its demands that gay sex acts be punished by law.

“The Kaliningrad administration authorities banned us from picketing the concert of Moiseyev,” Russian Vanguard’s leader Alexander Klementyev told Interfax.

“This picketing will show our demand to re-establish Article 121 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation which existed before and provided for punishment for homosexuality,” said Klementyev.

Homosexuality was legalised in Russia in 1993 and since 1999 it is no longer included on the list of mental illnesses.

Religious Russians have been at the vanguard of the fight against gay rights in the country.

However, the Communist Party of Russian Federation is also deeply homophobic. Its leader Gennady Zyuganov says that homosexuality is contrary to Russian national traditions.

The ruling party is not supportive of gay people. Russian society as well as the government are notoriously homophobic in character.

In past years the Mayor of Moscow has refused to allow gay pride marches, referring to them as Satanic.

LGBT activists regularly face intimidation and violence from far right groups who see the gay community as a ‘threat’ to Russia’s national security.

An Amnesty International spokesman told PinkNews.co.uk:

“Amnesty has serious concerns about the Russian government’s treatment of LGBT rights.

“We’ve had numerous homophobic attacks in Russia, some of them fatal.

“The authorities have failed to tackle discrimination because of sexual orientation.”

In an interview with the German magazine Der Spiegel in January, Metropolitan Kirill of Smolensk and Kaliningrad, who is head of the Moscow Patriarchate department for external church relations, said that not viewing homosexuality as a sin will lead to a variety of other sexual perversions.

“Morality is either absolute or it does not exist. If you excuse homosexuality, why not excuse paedophilia?” he said.

When the interviewer pointed out that there was a “great difference” between homosexuality and paedophilia, as the latter violated the “personal freedom” of children.

Bishop Kirill said that people in the future would say that “12-year-old girls were considered children before, but now they develop much faster.

“Twenty years ago nobody could imagine that Germany would legalise homosexual marriages,” he continued.

“However, they get used to it by now. It is a matter of principle. There is one moral nature.

“Gay parade is an intrusive display of depravity. Thus we can successfully promote any other sin, as is done on TV.

“It vitiates public morality. The task of the Church is to say that sin is sin. Otherwise, the Church is not needed.”

Late last year the Council of Europe Parliamentary Assembly was dominated by comments made by a Russian religious leader.

Orthodox Patriarch Alexy II had called homosexuality an “illness” and attacked what he called “homosexual propaganda” influencing young people during an address to MPs from across Europe.

The patriarch was there as part of council’s regular debates with political and religious leaders.

He said homosexuality was “an illness and a distortion of the human personality” comparable to kleptomania.