The Russian president has signed a new law which makes gender-affirming medical procedures illegal.
The new bill, which was approved unanimously by both houses of Russia’s parliament, is another major blow to the country’s LGBTQ+ community as Vladimir Putin tries to protect ‘traditional values’.
It bans any ‘medical interventions aimed at changing the sex of a person’, and changing one’s gender on official documents or public records.
This includes taking hormones or seeking gender-affirming surgery.
The only exception to the ban would be medical intervention to treat congenital anomalies, and only licenced clinics linked to the Russian Health Ministry can make decisions about these treatments.
The bill also annuls marriages where one person has changed gender, and bans transgender people from fostering or adopting children.
Legislators say the legislation is to safeguard Russia against ‘Western anti-family ideology’, with some describing gender transitioning as ‘pure satanism’.
When the ban passed through Russia’s lower house of parliament earlier this month, Badma Bashenkaev, chair of the State Duma Committee on Health Protection, said: ‘We have our Russian families, and the liberalization of such phenomena can be the first step on the road to hell.’
Putin has been cracking down on the LGBTQ+ community for a decade. His declaration to focus on ‘traditional family values’ was supported by the Russian Orthodox Church.
In 2013 the Kremlin adopted a new law which banned public endorsement of ‘nontraditional sexual relations’ between minors.
Same-sex marriage was banned in 2020, and last year Putin signed a law banning ‘propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations’ among adults.
More than 2,000 people legally changed their sex in Russia while the practice was legal between 2018 and 2022, the country’s deputy health minister said.
Dilya Gafurova is head of the Sphere Foundation, a human rights charity campaigning for better treatment of the LGBTQ+ community in Russia.
Speaking when the bill passed through the lower parliament, they said: ‘Anti-LGBT legislature that the Russian authorities have been so eager on passing recently is nothing but an attempt at posturing, presenting Russia as a last bastion of hope for conservatism in global politics, a stronghold for “traditional values” and the outdated ideals of the institution of family.
‘Such a rhetoric of juxtaposition embodied in legislature comes at a heavy price for an entire social group of Russians, — what are trans people to do now, when they are completely cut off from options?
‘They’re vulnerable as never before, forced into a situation where they cannot get proper medical assistance or psychological advice, change their documentation or build a family, and thus, ultimately, cannot remain authentic to who they are.
‘When the Russian authorities proclaim from a high stance that they do what they do to protect the people, don’t believe them — as with most of the actions of the Russian government in years, no one heard out those they aimed the law against or sought the opinion of experts, as apparently dictators know best.
‘But that’s simply because they’re trading human lives for power, and once they feel the latter slipping away, they only up the ante.’
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