Russia’s lower house of parliament, known as the State Duma has passed a bill which prohibits gender reassigning procedures.
This comes as the Kremlin persists in its campaign to protect what it views as the country’s “traditional values.”
The stringent bill was passed unanimously in its third and final reading on Friday, July 14, 2023.
The bill outlaws any “medical interventions aimed at changing the sex of a person,” as well as changing one’s gender in official documents and public records.
The only exception will be medical intervention to treat congenital anomalies.
In the bill’s second reading, which took place on Thursday, July 13, 2023, clauses were added that annul marriages in which one person has “changed gender” and bar transgender people from becoming foster or adoptive parents.
The bill must be passed by the Federation Council, Kremlin-controlled upper chamber that generally rubber-stamps legislation that the Duma has approved, before being signed into law by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Lawmakers perceive the bill as protecting Russia from “the Western anti-family ideology,” with some describing gender transitioning as “pure satanism.”
In a statement on social media, Chairman of the State Duma, Vyacheslav Volodin, noted, “This decision will protect our citizens and our children.”
Volodin cited what he described as a growing trend of gender reassignment in the United States, and claimed this was leading to the “degeneration” of the country.
“This is unacceptable for us,” he added, explaining why the proposed ban had won the backing of the lower house.
Critics Warn Of New Bill’s Repercussions
Meanwhile, Russia’s first transgender politician, Yulia Alyoshina, has warned of the severe consequences of the proposed transgender bill.
“Once the bill becomes law, the repercussions will be harsh, as transgender individuals will be denied the right for medical care, which is constitutionally guaranteed.” Yulia Alyoshina
“This bill is not just discriminatory, it is a real genocide of transgender people,” Alyoshina added.
On Monday, July 10, 2023, Alyoshina abandoned plans to run in a gubernatorial election, saying that the country’s latest anti-LGBTQ+ bill prevented her from garnering the support needed to register her candidacy.
She had planned to represent the opposition Civil Initiative party at the polls in southern Siberia’s Altai region in September, when it will elect a new governor.
Also, prior to Friday’s final reading of the bill, Yan Dvorkin, a 32-year-old psychologist who heads Centre T; a Russian NGO which assists transgender people, said that he was worried about a possible rise in suicides as a result of the bill.
He added that the ban on hormone reassignment therapy risks “creating a black market in hormones.” Hormone reassignment therapy is illegal under the new bill.
Putin has toughened anti-LGTBQ legislation in recent months, as the Kremlin clamps down on free speech and human rights amid the war in Ukraine.
These recent legal developments in Russia expand the constraints on the LGBTQ community and reflect a tightening of regulations and control over transgender rights in the country.
In 2013, the Kremlin adopted the first legislation restricting LGBTQ+ rights, known as the “gay propaganda” law that banned any public endorsement of “non-traditional sexual relations” among minors.
In 2020, Putin pushed through a constitutional reform that outlawed same-sex marriage.
In December 2022, Russia expanded its existing “gay propaganda” law to exert control over public discussions and narratives surrounding non-heterosexual relationships and identities.
The package of amendments signed by Putin includes heavier penalties for anyone promoting “non-traditional sexual relations and/or preferences,” as well as gender transition.