Latvia's top Roman Catholic cleric sparked controversy in the Baltic state today by suggesting bans on homosexuality under Hitler and Stalin were better than the EU's liberal policies.
Speaking at a parliamentary hearing focused on a deadly 2013 supermarket roof cave-in, 84-year-old Cardinal Janis Francis Pujats embarked on an off-topic rant after suggesting "vanishing morals" were the root cause of the disaster rather than architectural or engineering failures.
"There aren't just technical causes for the misfortune," Pujats said.
"This may be a harsh thing to say, but even (Nazi German dictator Adolf) Hitler and (Soviet dictator Joseph) Stalin didn't dare raise pederasty to the level of state policy," he added, referring to the criminalisation of homosexuality by both totalitarian dictators.
"The EU has launched an internal crusade against the Christian faith."
The attack comes just a month before Riga plays host to Europe's largest gay pride festival, Europride, to be held June 15-21.
The Latvian capital also hosted several anti-homophobia events on June 17 to mark the International Day against Homophobia.
"On one hand we can laugh it off because it's a ridiculous statement, but on the other hand this sort of person does influence society's opinion so I think he should be more considerate," Kristine Garina, head of the Riga-based LGBT rights group Mozaika told AFP.
Attitudes to homosexuality remain conservative in Latvia though Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics earned widespread praise in 2014 when he came out as gay.