A Russian Cossack stands inside the Kazan Orthodox Cathedral in the southern Russian city of Volgograd, January 4, 2014. REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko
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Russia's powerful Orthodox Church proposed Friday a referendum on banning gay relations in the face of Western pressure over human rights ahead of next month's Winter Olympics in Sochi.Church spokesman Vsevolod Chaplin pointed to polls showing more than half of Russians viewing homosexuality as either an illness or a crime as a sign that the country was ready to revert to a Soviet-era homosexual ban.A study conducted by the independent Levada center a month after the "homosexual propaganda ban's adoption showed only one in five Russians believe that people were actually born gay.More than a third said homosexuality should be treated medically and 13 percent backed the idea of making it a crime – results suggesting that Chaplin's proposal would pass easily if ever put to a vote.
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