Russian lawmakers in the lower house of parliament (Duma) on Friday, July 14, voted in favour of new legislation that would make gender reassignment illegal, further cementing an ultra-conservative, anti-Western drive in society.
The bill bans 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 its second reading on Thursday, July 13, 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, Russia’s Kremlin-controlled upper chamber that generally rubber-stamps legislation that the Duma has approved, before being signed into law by Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The Duma said the new legislation 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.”
“The State Duma banned gender reassignment in Russia. The relevant changes to the legislation, initiated by the Chairman of the State Duma Vyacheslav Volodin and deputies of all factions, were adopted in the final version unanimously,” read a statement on the Duma’s website.
“This decision will protect our citizens and our children,” Volodin said in a separate statement on social media.
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 behavior authorities consider deviant and Western-influenced.
Russia’s FSB security service announced earlier this week that it had arrested a transgender rights activist accused of “high treason” for supporting the Ukrainian military.
Putin’s administration has repeatedly used attacks on transgender rights, as well as LGBTQ people in general, as a way of pushing the notion that the West has lost its moral compass.
Last year, the Russian parliament passed a so-called “gay propaganda” law that effectively made it illegal to refer to LGBTQ relationships in any kind of positive light.
Russia adopted its first legislation restricting LGBTQ rights in 2013, highlighting its hostility to the depiction of “nontraditional sexual relations” to minors. Similar laws have also been passed in EU member Hungary, as well as numerous US states.