Religious activists in Russia are calling for a nationwide ban on Facebook now the social network allows gay couples to use an icon to represent their marriage.

According to the government-funded RT.com news network, a group of Russian Orthodox activists in the southern city of Saratov say Facebook is involved in “gay propaganda”.

The social network recently updated the icons users can put on their profile timelines to indicate key personal events.

Gay married users had previously had to use an icon of a bride and groom to mark the date of their wedding.

Now, the head of an Orthodox group says his campaign amassed 34,000 signatures in three days on a petition demanding Facebook stop what he termed “flirting with sodomites”, believing the network is breaking regional laws on ‘gay propaganda’.

Vladimir Roslyakovsky said today: “We demand only one thing: Facebook should be blocked in the entire country because it openly popularizes homosexuality among minors.”

Ryazan, Arkhangelsk, Kostroma, Novosibirsk, Nizhny Novgorod, Samara and St Petersburg now have laws forbidding the promotion of homosexuality and a national law has been mooted. Russia’s Public Chamber is reportedly examining arguments that the laws are unconstitutional.

Roslyakovsky said he aims to get 1,000,000 citizens of Orthodox and other faiths to sign the petition.

He said: “The US goal is that Russians stop having children. [They want] the great nation to turn into likeness of Sodom and Gomorrah.”

The activists are reportedly prepared to appeal to the Duma to have Facebook banned.

He added that he was “confident that Russian laws and reasonable citizens will be able to protect their children from a fierce attack of sodomites.”

Facebook declined to comment this afternoon.