The Orthodox Church in Ukraine has said that gay singer Elton John is “a sinner” and should not be allowed to adopt a child from one of the country’s orphanages.

The singer has not made an adoption application, but admitted that a 14-month-old boy he met while visiting an institution had “stolen [his] heart” and changed his mind about adopting a child.

Although Sir Elton and his partner David Furnish are in a civil partnership, Ukraine does not recognise this as marriage. In addition, at 62, he is too old to adopt under the country’s laws.

The Donetsk Diocese of the Orthodox Church has rounded on gay couples who adopt, with spokesman Father Georgy Gulyaev saying: “Thank God it’s impossible under Ukrainian law for Elton John to adopt a child.”

According to the Daily Mail, he continued: “People pretend to have good intentions, create semi-marriages and so-called families, and moreover they dare to adopt children. Unlike people who are blessed by God to create natural families, these are people who succumb to their passions.

“This is definitely a sin, there is no other word for it, and the church will never agree that people who have created same-sex “marriage” could also dare to adopt children.

“This applies to all, including Elton John. He is a sinner.”

Lev, the child Sir Elton met at the Makeyevka orphanage, was placed there because his mother has HIV. The singer was visiting the organisation as part of his extensive charity work for HIV and AIDS.