Russia’s lower house on Wednesday passed a bill that is set to ban both medical and legal gender reassignment, the latest Kremlin-backed suppression of LGBTQ rights.
The bill aims to outlaw any gender-affirming surgeries except those intended to treat “congenital physiological anomalies,” the Associated Press reported. The government will oversee medical panels that consider cases that are exceptions.
State agencies would also be banned from changing a person’s gender in passports or birth certificates.
Russia was one of the first countries to allow for legal gender reassignment, passing a law in 1997 that allowed adults to change their gender on official documents.
The View From The United States
Transgender rights — particularly for youth — have become one of the dominant sociopolitical clashes between Democrats and Republicans leading up to the 2024 election.
In recent months, at least 18 Republican-controlled states have banned gender affirming care for minors, with some states like Texas having considered investigating parents who seek such care for their children.
The View From Ukraine
Transgender people living in Ukraine said they were already living in a transphobic society, but the war has only complicated and worsened many of these problems.
Since the onset of martial law after Russia’s invasion, transgender women have reported difficulty in fighting the country’s requirement for able-bodied men to stay behind and serve in the army. Others have reported being interrogated at checkpoints while attempting to flee the country because their gender in passports does not match their gender expression.
The move comes after Putin signed a December 2022 bill that increased regulations for "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations," including bans on books, films, theater, and online resources that contain LGBTQ themes or depictions.
He is also working to amend the constitution to codify marriage as that between one man and one woman.
Putin and his allies have framed advancing LGBTQ rights as a political import from the West, saying that bills like these are meant to preserve Russian culture.
"We preserve Russia for posterity, with its cultural and family values, traditional foundations, putting up a barrier to the penetration of Western anti-family ideology," said Pyotr Tolstoy, deputy chairman of the lower house.