Russia has moved a step closer to banning gender changes and reassignment surgery, which its parliament’s leader has said are the “path to the degeneration of the nation”.
Yesterday (Friday, July 14) saw the State Duma approve a bill which also bans people changing their genders on state documents. It also bans people who have undergone gender changes from adopting children, and annulls marriages where one party has undergone gender reassignment.
The new law – which has been accused of being a ‘fascist’ attack on LGBT rights in the country – now needs approval from the upper house and President Vladimir Putin. However, such approval is normally seen as a mere formality.
Vyacheslav Volodin, Speaker of the Duma, said the bill would “protect our citizens and our children”. In a post on messaging app Telegram he called gender-affirming surgery a “path to the degeneration of the nation”.
He told the Russian Parliament: “We are the only European country that opposes all that is happening in the [United] States, in Europe and does everything to save families and traditional values. And we need to understand that there won’t be any future if we don’t adopt the law, if we don’t ban gender change.”
LGBT rights groups have slammed the legislation, arguing it will have a serious impact on the health of people denied access to care. Yan Dvorkin, head of the Center T organisation which provides support for Russian transgender people, said: “I think this is an absolutely fascist law, which deprives people of medical care and any basic human rights.
“It is very difficult psychologically for people to be worrying that the government might designate you as an enemy of the people and deprive you of rights, deprive you of any assistance, and leaves you in a lawless state.”
Yulia Alyoshina, Russia’s only openly trans politician, accused the government of trying to “repress this small group, which is already discriminated against and stigmatised”.
However, Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said that some of complaints being made about the bill were “perhaps excessive”.
Statistics released by the Russian interior ministry show that, in a country of 146 million people, 2,990 Russian residents legally changed gender between 2016 and 2022. The new laws come after last year’s anti-LGBT ‘propaganda’ laws, which made any promotion of homosexuality – including in books, films and online – illegal.
Individuals can be fined up to 400,000 roubles (£5,400) and organisations 5m roubles (£68,500) for “propagandising non-traditional sexual relations” – which includes any public expression or portrayal of LGBT culture. Russian President Vladimir Putin has previously said that LGBT lifestyles run counter to traditional Russian values.