An anti-discrimination law, which could mean that crimes against LGBT people would be punishable by fines, or prison, has passed the second stage of parliament in the Republic of Moldova.

The law, which would protect minorities, including LGBT people, against discrimination in the workplace, could mean fines of 9,000 Moldovan lei (£464), reports RiaNovosti.

Furthermore, discrimination leading to death or suicide could carry prison sentences of up to six years, however, according to reports, the wording of the bill did not make it clear whether discrimination against sexual minorities was included in all levels of sentencing under the legislation.

The next stage of parliament, which the bill will have to pass, is the third and final reading, however no date was confirmed.

The legislation builds on that which was lobbied by the European Union last May, however the previous bill, passed by Moldova’s ruling party, the Alliance for European Integration, which banned discrimination against minorities, did not carry with it legal mechanisms to enforce it.

The small Republic of Moldova lies between the Ukraine and Romania, and critics have speculated that it was possibly following the lead of Russia and the Ukraine on bringing in anti-gay “propaganda” laws.

The Ukraine Bill 8711, which received initial approval in October, envisages fines, and prison terms of up to five years for spreading “propaganda of homosexuality”.

The following day, Russia’s Supreme Court ruled that the country’s second largest city of St Petersburg could continue to enforce its homophobic censorship law.

Moldovan lawmakers previously denied that they were following Russia’s lead on the subject, but Moldova’s Communist Party has close ties with Russia’s ruling United Russia party.

The bill has come under criticism from Moldovan Orthodox Christians who had said that the new law would “endorse sodomy”.