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Franklin Graham defends Putin’s anti-gay beliefs

Franklin Graham defends Putin’s anti-gay beliefs

Franklin Graham, head of the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association (BGEA), has praised Russian President Vladimir Putin for his tough stance on homosexuality while criticising US President Obama for his ‘shameful’ acceptance of gay rights.

Russia’s anti-gay law, which bans the promotion of non-traditional sexual relations to minors, has been under heavy fire since it was passed last summer, particularly in the run up to the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Sochi.

Graham, who took over from his father as head of the group in 2001, backed the Russian president in a recent article published in the BGEA’s Decision magazine.

He said: ‘In my opinion, Putin is right on these issues. Obviously, he may be wrong about many things, but he has taken a stand to protect his nation’s children from the damaging effects of any gay and lesbian agenda.

‘Our president and his attorney general have turned their backs on God and His standards, and many in the Congress are following the administration’s lead. This is shameful.’

Despite claiming ‘I am not endorsing President Putin’, Graham continued to praise Russia’s tough stance on gay rights: ‘Isn’t it sad, though, that America’s own morality has fallen so far on this issue – protecting children from any homosexual agenda or propaganda – Russia’s standard is higher than our own?’

‘It’s obvious that President Obama and his administration are pushing the gay-lesbian agenda in America today and have sold themselves completely to that which is contrary to God’s teaching,’ claimed Graham elsewhere in the piece.

A statement from the group said the article was intended as ‘a way provoke engagement of readers on this important issue and encourage further thought, prayer, and action.’

Marianne Duddy-Burke, head of gay Catholic group DignityUSA, has met with persecuted gay Russians who have faced beatings, knife attacks and being burned as consequences of Russia’s anti-gay crackdown. She said: ‘It’s really disturbing when a religious leader seems to endorse laws that lead to this kind of behaviour.’

Since his father’s retirement, Graham has openly questioned Obama’s faith, backed a North Carolina measure to ban gay marriage and branded Islam an ‘evil and wicked religion’. The BGEA also implicitly endorsed Mormon Republican Mitt Romney in his 2012 bid for presidency.