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Russia embraces religious intolerance with draconian blasphemy and anti-gay laws

THE  Lower House of the Russian parliament has approved a controversial bill which criminalises insulting people’s religious feelings. According to this report, it could come into effect as early as July if passed by the Upper House and the President.

In the current version of the bill, insulting religious feelings in public can be punished with up to three years in prison. Other possible punishments include fines up to half a million roubles (about £10,000) and compulsory correctional work.

Before the final reading MPs amended the draft to make it a criminal offence to obstruct  the activities of religious organisations. Such a felony will be punished with up to one year in prison and those convicted will be barred from taking certain official posts for two years.

Premeditated and public desecration of religious objects or books will also be punished by fines of up to 200,000 roubles (about £4,000).

The current bill was promoted by a large part of the Russian political establishment and strongly backed by the Russian Orthodox Church whose leader has publicly accused some unnamed forces of staging attacks on faith and religion in the country.

The bill is intended to deter such incidents as feminist punk band Pussy Riot’s impromptu appearance in Moscow’s main cathedral in February last year, when they attacked the church and its alleged strengthening ties with Russian authorities and President Vladimir Putin personally.

The three band members were apprehended and sentenced to two years in prison each for aggravated hooliganism, despite numerous objections from Russian activists and foreign rock and pop stars. One of those convicted has already been released on probation and two others remain behind bars.

Significant part of the society still oppose the bill saying that it contradicts the basic principles of a free and secular state, and the freedom of expression provided by the Constitution. The leader of one of Russia’s oldest political parties Yabloko, Sergey Mitrokhin, took part in protests outside the State Duma office with a poster that compared the controversial bill with the Spanish Inquisition.

Supporters of the bill, such as deputy head of the Lower House Committee for Religious Organizations Mikhail Markelov, claim that it is a reply to dangerous tendencies in society. He said:

People who practice traditional forms of religion constantly face threats of various kinds. This includes the stunts by the Pussy Riot group, this includes the cemetery vandalism, and this also includes attempts on lives of spiritual leaders.

The MP added that according to opinion polls the majority of Russians supported the bill protecting believers’ feelings. He added that such laws were a recognised international practice and had been  enforced in many European countries.

A young gay Russian, part of a protest against the anti-gay bill, is hit by an egg thrown by a member of the Russian Orthodox Church

A young gay Russian, part of a protest against the anti-gay bill, is hit by an egg thrown by a member of the Russian Orthodox Church

In another controversial move, Russia’s lower house passed a law banning gay “propaganda”, a measure that human rights groups say has already fueled attacks on homosexuals as President Vladimir Putin pursues an increasingly conservative social agenda.

As parliament debated the bill, gay activists who had taken part in a “kissing protest” outside parliament to demonstrate against the law were harassed and pelted with eggs by anti-gay protesters. About 20 of them were arrested.

The law bans the spreading of “propaganda for non-traditional sexual relations” to minors and sets heavy fines for violations. It passed with 436 votes in the 450-seat lower house, the Duma. One deputy abstained and no one voted against.

Human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell, who was beaten and arrested four times for participating in successive Moscow Gay Pride parades, from 2007 to 2011, said in a statement:

This new law is symptomatic of Putin’s increasing authoritarianism and his crackdown on civil society. It violates the Russian constitution, which guarantees freedom of expression, and the European Convention on Human Rights, which Russia has signed and pledged to uphold.   Although the law is ostensibly aimed at prohibiting the dissemination of so-called ‘gay propaganda’ to young persons under 18, in reality it will criminalise any public advocacy of gay equality or same-sex HIV education where a young person could potentially see it.  

In practice, gay marches, festivals, posters, magazines, books, welfare advice and safer sex education will be at risk of criminal prosecution. It is a blanket censorship of any public expression of same-sex love or gay human rights.   This is likely to result in the purging of many books, films and plays from libraries, schools, theatres and cinemas, including many classic works of art and literature.   It is one of the harshest laws against gay freedom of expression anywhere in the world.

Other critics say the bill – a nationwide version of laws already in place in several cities including Putin’s hometown of St Petersburg – would in effect ban all gay rights rallies and could be used to prosecute anyone voicing support for homosexuals.
Said Viktoria Malyasova, 18, standing outside the Duma:

There is already enough pressure and violence against gays, and with this law it will only continue and probably get worse. I may not be gay but I came to stand up for my rights and the rights of other people to love whom they want.

The gay rights protesters outside the Duma on Tuesday were far outnumbered by around 200 anti-gay activists who surrounded them, chanting “Russia is not Sodom”, singing Orthodox Christian prayers, crossing themselves and throwing rotten eggs.

Putin, who has embraced the Russian Orthodox Church as a moral authority and harnessed its influence as a source of political support, has championed socially conservative values since starting a new, six-year term in May 2012.

The 60-year-old president denies that there is discrimination against gays, but has criticised them for failing to increase Russia’s population, which has declined sharply since the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Hat tip: Canada Dave

 

41 Responses to “Russia embraces religious intolerance with draconian blasphemy and anti-gay laws”

  1. Angela_K says:

    Democracy hasn’t lasted very long in Russia since the fall of Communism has it? It seems the Russian church has learned from the islamists how to seize power and impose a theocratic, fascist state; this is very bad news.

    I doubt we shall see a boycott by Western Rock/Pop bands and trade embargoes – too much money to be made so sod human rights.

  2. [...] :: The Lower House of the Russian parliament has approved a controversial bill which criminalises insulting people’s religious feelings. According to this report, it could come into effect as early as July if passed by the Upper House and the President. In the current version of the bill, insulting religious feelings in public can be punished with up to three years in prison. Other possible punishments include fines up to half a million roubles (about £10,000) and compulsory correctional work. Before the final reading MPs amended the draft to make it a criminal offence to obstruct the activities of religious organisations. Such a felony will be punished with up to one year in prison and those convicted will be barred from taking certain official posts for two years. Premeditated and public desecration of religious objects or books will also be punished by fines of up to 200,000 roubles (about £4,000). ::  [...]

  3. bettydavis says:

    Why are people so frightened of one human being loving another human being. What do they think is going to happen if they allow gays the same rights as other humans

  4. Bubblecar says:

    It’s not just the church – the Mafia have always been homophobic and it’s unlikely there are any Russian politicians who are not basically career criminals. Also, surveys show that most Russians are homophobic whether or not they are religious. It’s just a backward and bigoted kind of society that will take a long time to catch up with the West.

  5. vytas says:

    they are also about to pass a law, which will send you to prison if you “insult” (read:criticize/question) people’s religious sentiments.

  6. remigius says:

    Thanks, vytas. I had wondered what the first few paragraphs of this post were about :)

    I’m just glad I live in a country where I can say what I like about religion. Unfortunately there isn’t much I like about religion.

  7. barriejohn says:

    Remigius: We’ve all done it! :) (Wistfully recalls delete button with tearful eyes.)

    Overdramatic much (well – he IS French, I suppose):

    http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2013/06/12/french-mayor-i-will-go-to-the-gallows-before-performing-a-same-sex-wedding/

  8. barriejohn says:

    This story warmed the heart of my cockles:

    http://www.pinknews.co.uk/2013/06/11/us-gay-11-year-old-succeeds-with-petition-to-have-award-rescinded-from-dont-say-gay-politician/

    I could link to more Pink News stories, but you can see what’s on offer for yourselves!

  9. barriejohn says:

    Watch from 23.55, especially the “swivel-eyed” woman who doesn’t want her son to hear about homosexuality. (I was dying for one of them to ask her what happens if he turns out to be gay!):

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b02xd173/Newsnight_11_06_2013/

  10. barriejohn says:

    PS Jeremy Bowen’s analysis of the situation in Turkey is also worth listening to, while available.

  11. AgentCormac says:

    Putin is tightening his grip on Russian society by implementing theocracy while still publicly advocating democracy. This is dangerous stuff that makes evangelising politicians in the US look like a bunch of toothless liberals.

  12. David Anderson says:

    Putin lives up to his name. Sounds just like spitting to me.

  13. L.Long says:

    Czarist, Communist, Mafia crime lords, Bigoted Theocracy…
    All excellent examples of how to kick the schite out of the people and except for the small minority they seem to like doing this to themselves. And since many americans are trying set up a theocracy themselves, england has a milder form of theocracy, and every country either has or is try to get a ton of muslins in and their ‘sorry-ass’ laws in place.
    Please! WHERE! oh! where! is there some place where they have told religion to piss-off, tax them & not give them special privilege and has a secular government????
    I’ll move there tomorrow!

  14. barriejohn says:

    It’s wonderful to see all that Christian love being demonstrated again. Where would the world be without it? When I heard them saying “Russia is not Sodom” last night I nearly despaired. The story of the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrha had nothing to do with homosexuality per se:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sodom_and_Gomorrah#Jewish

    Homosexual rape is the way in which they violate hospitality —not the essence of their transgression. Reading the story of Sodom as being about homosexuality is like reading the story of an ax murderer as being about an ax.

  15. Graham Martin-Royle says:

    All those yanks that keep on trying to get their country to become a theocracy should take a long hard look at Russia, cos that’s where they’re headed.

  16. barriejohn says:

    Here is the Christian view, if you can stomach it:

    http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/Basics/sodom.htm

  17. barriejohn says:

    GM-R: Someone was saying that very thing recently (was it here?). The American right-wing theocrats oppose the constitution and oppose traditional American values, yet loudly claim to defend those very things. They oppose the separation of church and state, and oppose individual liberties unless the individuals concerned are toeing the party line. They see themselves as the champions of liberty, but can’t see that they are the enemies of personal liberty. Where fascism is concerned, the terms right-wing and left-wing become largely irrelevant: abolition of civil liberties and subservience to the state is paramount – a situation that should fill all Americans with horror.

  18. Matt+Westwood says:

    L.Long: Sweden, I believe. I may be wrong, but AFAIK it’s secular. Also, France has a defiantly secular constitution despite the many woo-woo nutcases within its borders.

  19. Broga says:

    @barriejohn: It is gut wrenching to read that stuff. One of the greatest irritants, to put it no higher, is that they keep quoting the bible as an ultimate authority. They never get it into their heads that even biblical scholars, with every wish to find in the favour of the bible, accept that it is a rewritten, rehashed, tarted up piece of propaganda to prove a series of events, based on a fictional character, that never happened.

  20. Pagan Pete says:

    @Matt, yes but, ummmm, look at where Sweden has got itself with all those riots of late. I used to always think of NL as the ideal when it came to secular inclusivity, but, ummmm, look at where they’ve got themselves of late….

    “Men will never be free until the last king is strangled with the entrails of the last priest.” Denis Diderot.

    Ho hum, one can but dream… :-)

  21. barriejohn says:

    Does anyone else remember reading this?

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2012/10/01/my-day-at-the-america-for-jesus-rally/

    They saw America, and the world, as being under their God, and they didn’t see a real place for the rest of us.

    It’s one thing to be friendly to my face and tell me that I am welcome and that my place in society needs to be protected. It’s another to imply the exact opposite through your rhetoric. Based on the speeches I heard and everything I saw, my “place” and the place of all atheists and other non-Christians in “Christian America” was secondary to theirs.

  22. Canada Dave says:

    Wonder if Russia is aware that this move places them in the same stable with such enlightened countries as …..Uganda.

  23. AgentCormac says:

    L.Long

    If we all club together perhaps we could buy a small island somewhere. One that only people who reject superstition could live on. Exclusive, I know – but for all the right reasons!

  24. AgentCormac says:

    Broga & barriejohn

    It’s amazing – don’t these people just love to show off how ignorant they are! I particularly like the ‘Europe and America are Becoming a Giant Sodom and Gomorrah!’ heading. This, no doubt, from one of the 67% of Americans who don’t even have a passport and therefore the last time any member of their family was anywhere near Europe was when they set sail for the New World in an attempt to escape religious oppression.
    http://www.theexpeditioner.com/2010/02/17/how-many-americans-have-a-passport-2/

    Short memories – and small minds.

  25. barriejohn says:

    AgentCormac: Yes – it doesn’t matter what the original Genesis story was obviously about, just because some ignorant bigot in New Testament times wanted to rail against “perverts” it MUST have been a morality tale about the evils of homosexuality! However, just look at what he says about “the abominable NARNIA” – quite oblivious, apparently, to the fact that, like Pilgrim’s Progress, the story is an allegory written by an extremely devout Christian. And Walt Disney is “controlled by Satan”. (Micky Mouse even appears “wearing a sorcerer’s hat and casting a magic spell” – AS THE SORCERER’S APPRENTICE YOU DICKHEAD.) He even has the audacity to accuse Dr Fontaine of being “unscholarly”, for Christ’s sake. If I thought that he was an isolated case I wouldn’t give his blatherings the time of day, but I know from my own experiences that there are literally millions who lap up this sort of tripe enthusiastically, and hold such deluded idiots in high esteem as our last bulwark against Satan and all his works!

    http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/Evils%20in%20America/Hellivision/narnia.htm

  26. L.Long says:

    It’s amazing how abysmally stupid the xtian sheeple are about their own religion. They go on and on about satan, when their own dippy book says ALL THINGS are created by gawd. Satan cannot create anything. So everything INCLUDING EVIL comes from their psychotic sky-fairy, at most satan can only take advantage of the evil gawd creates.
    For the grammar nazis, satan is not a proper noun as it don’t exist, xtian is not a proper noun as it just describes a delusional state of mind, gawd is not a proper noun because 1) it not exist 2)it not the psychotic sky-fairy’s name but his job description. nazis may be a proper noun but I refuse to give those religious assholes any status. But sheeple should be capitalized as it is a proper name for these people… ;-}.

  27. Matt+Westwood says:

    That Narnia link …

    “The image to the right is a statue of the character, Mr. Tumnus, in NARNIA. Pan is deceitfully renamed to “Tumnus” in the movie, but anyone who is familiar with Satanism and witchcraft can instantly recognize Pan, the evil sexually-perverted god…”

    The fool clearly hasn’t read the books or he would realise that he was called Tumnus in the original and his name was not deceitfully changed in the book.

    Besides, apart from professing to be a Xtian, Lewis was actually pretty much pagan in outlook which is why he’s never quite sat right with the more right-wing xtian heterodoxy that controls the fascist mindset of the contemporary political religious right.

  28. 1859 says:

    @ LLong – try New Zealand – the population of sheep is staggering(30 million!) – and they are all staunch believers – but they can only say ‘Baaah! Baah!’ every now and then. The humans (just 4 million) are mostly secular and the good thing is the religions here have no arse-hole back door into government. Having said that the xtians are active – but the wierd thing is it’s the Korean and Chinese immigrants who are the most xtian of xtians. But there is a great repect for the concept of ‘love’ of whatever sexual orientation. One of the ‘churches’ in Auckland regularly puts up provocative posters at xmas and has been celebrating gay unions for many years. So if you don’t mind a land of loney farmers screwing the occasional sheep NZ is the place for you!!!

  29. JohnMWhite says:

    All that Narnia stuff is depressing. Somebody with the mental potential of the kind of people who put a man on the moon was so damaged and deranged by the iron fear of faith that now they dribble incoherently in Random Capitals and Comic Sans about how everything’s an evil penis. Something went terribly wrong in that person’s life.

    Meanwhile, something is about to go wrong in the lives of a great number of Russians who dare not be so deranged. Tragedy all around. Good job, Christianity.

  30. barriejohn says:

    Matt: You’re right about the suspicions that the majority of evangelical Christians hold about C S Lewis, as they do, indeed, about most “intellectuals” (does that remind anyone of fascists, communists and other assorted ideologues as well?). That, and the fact that he employed pagan imagery, doesn’t alter the fact that the Narnia stories were meant as Christian morality tales, though. In my view he was a Christian, but remained a mystic throughout his life.

    This is hilarious, especially as “war” seems to have been replaced with “piano covers” throughout!

    http://www.balaams-ass.com/journal/homemake/cslewis.htm

    Clive Staples Lewis has been perhaps the single most useful tool of Satan since his appearance in the Christian community sometime around World piano covers II. With his strong belief in non-denominational Christianity, which he termed “mere Christianity”, and his apparent orthodoxy in doctrine, the influence of his pen has reached across many years. When the light of God’s Holy Bible is focused upon his writings, however, his heresy and outright love of Satan comes into bold focus.

    Though a highly acclaimed and widely published “Christian” author, when judged by his own words with the King James Bible it becomes clear that he was indeed a fool in the most extreme sense of the word, yet a very subtle one that was and is extremely useful to his father the devil.

  31. Matt+Westwood says:

    … and “CIA” by “blip”:

    http://www.balaams-ass.com/journal/homemake/lewisale.htm

    “Lewis’ appetite for beer, rum and wine is visible in the fact that the characters consume them regularly in his Chronicles. This is mostly by the good characters. Not only does he put it in the stories, but it is assoblipted in certain cases with revelry and partying.”

  32. barriejohn says:

    Matt: USA is Blip as well – someone has had some fun here! When he references “The Mysteries of Rennes-le-Chateau and the Prieure du Sion” you just KNOW that he’s away with the fairies: it’s been admitted that it was a hoax, but people love the mystical and esoteric. There have to be “hidden meanings” everywhere you look!

  33. barriejohn says:

    One thing that I noticed whilst with the Brethren was their suspicion of academia and their preference for “simple believers” (ie simple-minded people). Again, this is characteristic of most ideologues, however clever they might wish to appear, as they tend to look for simple answers to complex questions, and even if their leaders are intelligent people they surround themselves with supine morons and may even eliminate anyone capable of challenging them. They all look for a formula or mantra that they can follow blindly, without thinking and without deviation, in which case they will reach the promised land, and this is exemplified perfectly in religion, where the reward is eternal happiness and the alternative too horrible to contemplate.

  34. Broga says:

    @barriejohn: You hit the target there in my personal experience. My devout religious relative – a simple minded woman of low educational attainment – has said to me, “I just can’t understand how someone with your education can’t see the truth of Jesus’ message.” I have suggested that perhaps the failure to see the “truth” has some connection with higher education.

  35. barriejohn says:

    Broga: There’s a very simple explanation.

    “But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: jn whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” (II Cor.4:3-4)

    Seems as though it’s not our fault after all!

  36. Broga says:

    @barriejohn: Here is a bit of encouraging news about a fight back about the savage repression of gays in Russia. The following is an extract from a request to us from our Russian daughter-in-law, mother of our grandchildren, native Russian speaker and who lives in England, and which we have signed.

    “Can we get to 150,000 signatures? Please forward this email and ask people to sign the petition here:
    https://www.allout.org/russia-attacks

    Polina sent this message to All Out members just as Russia passed a new law that makes it illegal to even say the word “gay”. Polina speaks on behalf of “Coming Out”, a big Russian gay organisation facing a trial to fight closure. Their trial has just been postponed to next week.”

  37. Marky Mark says:

    (a controversial bill which criminalises insulting people’s religious feelings)
    …Agreed, this was because of the Pussy Riot disruption. Has anyone seen the Documentary about Pussy Riot, and their trial?
    It was very good and those Orthodox Russians are as crazy as our Appalachian Snake Handlers we have here in the USA.

    (All those yanks that keep on trying to get their country to become a theocracy should take a long hard look at Russia, cos that’s where they’re headed.)
    …year but they are losing ground with all their repressive laws against women’s rights. Even the Christian women vote these guys out of office…and that is a start.

    (Putin is tightening his grip on Russian society by implementing theocracy while still publicly advocating democracy.)
    …He knows that religion is about greed and control. devote followers accept they are meant to suffer and do without for better rewards after they die…and thinking a sky god is watching one all the time makes them submissive to religious leaders…and government leaders who endorse their specific belief.

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