Russian lawmakers approve bill banning gender reassignment

Russia has replaced naval chief, state media confirms
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Russian lawmakers in the lower house of parliament on Friday voted overwhelmingly in favour of new legislation that would make gender reassignment illegal, further cementing an ultra-conservative, anti-Western drive in society.

“The State Duma banned gender reassignment in Russia,” the lower house said in a statement, adding that all factions had voted to introduce the new laws “unanimously”.

“This decision will protect our citizens and our children,” Chairman of the State Duma Vyacheslav Volodin said in a separate statement on social media.

He pointed to 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.

The new legislation forbids transition surgery, with the exception of children with congenital disorders, and bars people changing their gender in government-issued documents.

It must first be approved by the upper house of parliament and President Vladimir Putin before entering into force, steps seen as formalities in a country where lawmakers are loyal to the Kremlin.

Its spokesman Dmitry Peskov said after the vote that some concerns over the legislation were “perhaps excessive”.

The Duma said the new laws will have sweeping consequences for Russian transgender people: “citizens who have already changed gender will be prohibited from adopting children, and their marriages will be annulled.”

– Hormone ‘black market’ –

Yan Dvorkin, a 32-year-old psychologist who leads a Russian NGO helping transgender people called “Centre T”, told AFP prior to Friday’s vote he was concerned about a possible rise in suicides as a result of the bill.

He also said the ban on hormone therapy — also to be made illegal under the rules — risks “creating a black market in hormones”.

The Sphere group, a Russian advocacy group ordered to close last year, told AFP the new law was “a continuation of the state’s attack on LGBT+ people”.

Since the start of its offensive in Ukraine, Russia has adopted a series of conservative measures, particularly against the LGBTQ community, aiming to clamp down on behaviour authorities consider deviant and Western-influenced.

The country’s most prominent LGBTQ advocacy groups have been forced to close or branded “foreign agents”, a status with Soviet-era overtones that piles undue administrative pressure on the organisations.

Russia’s FSB security service announced earlier this week it had arrested a transgender rights activist accused of “high treason” for supporting the Ukrainian military.

And last November, Russian lawmakers approved a bill banning all forms of LGBTQ “propaganda”, a move with far-reaching consequences for book publishing and film distribution.

Russia’s Bolshoi Theatre permanently dropped a ballet about dance legend Rudolf Nureyev over the rules and publishers said it could result in a ban of some Russian classics like Vladimir Nabokov’s “Lolita”.

Russia under Putin’s decades-long rule has seen deepening ties between the Kremlin and the Orthodox Church, which has promoted hardline social values and cautioned against the influence of Western societies.


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Agence France-Presse (AFP) is a French international news agency headquartered in Paris, France. Founded in 1835 as Havas, it is the world's oldest news agency.

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