Russia’s State Duma, the lower house of parliament, passed a controversial bill on Tuesday making insulting somebody’s religion a crime punishable by three years in prison.
The bill was passed in the third and final hearing. It was proposed last September in an apparent bid to stiffen punishments for stunts like those committed by the feminist punk group Pussy Riot, five women who performed what they called a «punk prayer» in Christ the Savior Cathedral in February 2012. Two of them are serving two-year prison terms for hooliganism and religious hatred.
The bill defines religious insults as public acts expressing disrespect towards society, committed with the intent of insulting people’s religious beliefs, including acts committed in a house of worship. The punishment is up to three years in prison, a fine of up to 500,000, and correctional labor.
Also on Tuesday, the Duma passed a bill setting fines of up to one million rubles for the propaganda of homosexuality among minors.
According to the ban, citizens who are guilty of spreading propaganda of homosexuality among minors could be charged a fine of about 5,000 rubles (just over $160). But the fine goes up to 1 million rubles for legal entities such as businesses. For citizens, the fines go up to 100,000 rubles if the propaganda is spread through mass media.
Both bills must pass the upper house of parliament and be signed by the president before they go into effect.