The head of the Russian Orthodox Church says that, although the Church views homosexuality as a sin, homosexuality is a personal choice, the Associated Press website reports today.
Patriarch Kirill says gays and lesbians must not be persecuted or discriminated against in any way, although the Church still opposes same-sex marriage.
The patriarch's statements -- a breakthrough for the Russian Orthodox Church -- were made during a meeting today with visiting Council of Europe Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland.
Several high-profile Russian politicians have spoken against gay rights. Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov has described homosexuality as "satanic" and has blamed homosexuals for spreading AIDS.