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article imageGay people, religion offenders are criminals now in Russia

By Eko Armunanto     Jun 11, 2013 in World
Russia passed a bill providing jail terms and fines for anyone convicted of insulting religious feelings, and another bill forbidding homosexuality. Signed by President Putin, the bill says gay rights activists and religion insulters are criminals.
Russia's parliament State Duma has unanimously passed a federal law banning gay propaganda in the course of Kremlin’s push to enshrine deeply conservative values that critics say has already led to a sharp increase in anti-gay violence. The law passed 436-0 Tuesday, with only one deputy abstaining from voting on the bill which bans the spreading of "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations" among minors. The new law makes it illegal to equate straight and gay relationships, and the distribution of material on gay rights. It introduces fines for individuals and media groups found guilty of breaking the law, as well as special fines for foreigners.
During the vote, gay rights activists clashed with anti-gay groups outside the Duma. It also passed a bill imposing up to three years in jail on those who offend religious believers – comes in the wake of the imprisoning of members of the punk band Pussy Riot for performing an anti-Putin protest in an Orthodox cathedral in February 2012. Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina, the two of band members, are currently serving two-year jail terms. Critics said the punk rockers offended the faithful while supporters said their counter-culture performance targeted Putin and the Church's close ties to the Kremlin.
Public actions expressing clear disrespect for society and committed to the goal of offending religious feelings of the faithful would be punishable with jail terms of up to one year and fines of up to $9,000. The same actions committed in places of worship would be punishable by up to three years in prison and a fine of up to $15,000 – Aljazeera citing the new law.
Responding to Human Right Watch’s critics saying the law would only raise the level of intolerance in Russian society – referring to the ban on homosexual propaganda, one of the bill's authors Yelena Mizulina said traditional sexual relations are relations between a man and a woman and that should be protected by the government. The measure is part of an effort to promote traditional Russian values as opposed to Western liberalism that the Kremlin and the Russian Orthodox Church see as corrupting Russian youth and contributing to the protests against President Vladimir Putin's rule.
Homosexuality was once illegal during Soviet times, but was then decriminalized in 1993. Now the bill goes to the Federation Council where it has strong support, and then to President Vladimir Putin to sign it.
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