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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Russia's new laws on religion and homosexuality

I really don't understand the Russians.  How can they pretend to be a true democracy when two members of the all-girl punk band Pussy Riot, Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and Maria Alyokhina are serving a two year prison term for calling on the Virgin Mary to banish Putin. 

Admittedly, the girls showed grave disrespect to the church for holding their protest in an Orthodox cathedral, but surely prison time for a protest seems a bit much.

Yesterday, Russia's lower house of Parliament - the Duma - approved a bill that will make insulting religious believers' feelings a criminal offence, with a maximum sentence of three years in prison.  The bill was backed by 308 law makers and opposed by just two votes and will come into effect next month if passed in the upper house.

Part of the bill we can agree with - vandalism or desecration of holy sites is an act of violence and should be punished but the spoken word is not an act of violence.

But that's not all.  A bill to try and discourage homosexuality was passed unanimously and also awaits approval from the upper house which it's sure to get.  It introduces fines for individuals and media groups found guilty of providing homosexual propaganda to children under the age of 18.

Although homosexuality was decriminalized in Russian in 1993, anti-gay sentiment is high and gay rights campaigners have been attacked in Moscow streets.

Hatred in action

International human rights critics are appalled by what's happening in Russia but a recent poll found that almost half the population believes that gays should not enjoy the same rights as everyone else, so it's clear they hate homosexuals with a passion. 

So if you are a gay person living in Russia today, best to keep it quiet and be careful what you say about the church.