On the back of Hozier‘s runaway hit “Take Me to Church,” the Irish-born singer-songwriter has become one of music’s most outspoken critics of institutionalized homophobia. In an interview Monday with Larry King Now guest host Kelly Osbourne, Hozier took the Catholic Church and Russia to task on their practices of discrimination against the LGBTQ community.
Speaking about the Catholic Church and Pope Francis’ popularity, he said, “This is one of the paradoxes and weird hypocrisy of that organization [Catholic Church]. The pope came here last year and said, ‘Who am I to judge with regards to somebody’s sexual orientation?’ I think it is important to differentiate between lip service towards something and actually making change. I think it is hopeful, but saying this in 2015, ‘Who am I to judge?’ is something that should have been said 100 years ago.”
He went on, stating that the Church has undeniably institutionalized an irrational “aversion to homosexuality” and how that related to his own music.
“It is one that has institutionalized gender inequality as well, dangerous policy over contraception and, in this case, it still harbors and irrational aversion to homosexuality,” he continued. “Which in my view I think that is why I was driven to write ‘Take Me to Church.’ I think the church provides an excuse for homophobia.”
As for Russia, which country’s reports of growing anti-gay violence inspired the video for “Take Me To Church” last year, Hozier said he does not feel very much has changed in the country with his song’s popularity.
“It is very hard to get a gauge on societal mentality or societal mentality of all state-owned bodies, state-owned media,” he said. “I’m not sure, I would like to hope that slowly it is moving back towards something a bit more progressive.”
He continued, even likening the “othering” of that group in Russian society to the circumstances that led to the rise of the Nazi party in Germany less than 100 years ago.
“What is frightening about Russia is it is not that far from home,” he said. “Especially if you are in Europe, and cultures like that cross borders. They have in the past. This scapegoating of and othering of one group in society, that has happened before in the past in Europe not that long ago.”
Watch the full interview here.