A conservative religious group in Russia filed a court claim earlier this year to take back Alaska from the US, arguing that Orthodox Christians in the state should be saved from the ‘sin’ of same-sex marriage.

It emerged this week that Pchyolki, a religious group which began campaigning against LGBT rights in 2008, had made the claim in a Moscow arbitrage court in January.

They argued that the relatively high number of Orthodox Christians living in Alaska, some 50,000 people out of the state’s 730,000 total population, needed to be protected from same-sex marriage, as they “would never accept sin for normal behavior”.

Pchyolki’s proposed settlement for problem was to have the US return Alaska’s territory to Russia.

The territory of Alaska was sold to the US by Russia for $7.2 million ($120 million or £79 million with inflation) in 1867, and was recognised as the 49th state in 1953.

A statement on Pchyolki’s website says: “We see it as our duty to protect [Alaskan Orthodox Christians’] right to freely practice their religion, which allows no tolerance to sin.”

They also argue that the original trade between the US and Russia in 1867 is invalid, as the US paid for Alaska by cheque rather than by “golden coin”, as was instructed in their contract.

The Moscow court said the claim was not processed because Pchyolki, for unknown reasons, did not hand in all the paperwork needed to support it.

Yesterday President Obama was given the green light to argue to the Supreme Court that banning same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, but he has not indicated any plans to legalise it nationally.

Alaska itself does not recognise civil partnerships, and its constitution prohibits same-sex marriage.

Last month legislators in Alaska laughed off a question about whether there were plans to consider marriage equality in the state.