New legislation banning gender-affirming care signed into law in Russia

The new law forbids trans people from changing their gender on official documents, becoming foster or adoptive parents, and annuls marriages.

Putin wearing a suit, he signed new anti-trans legislation banning gender-affirming care in Russia
Image: Twitter @jacksonhinklle

On Monday, July 24, Vladimir Putin signed severe legislation which officially outlaws trans people from seeking gender-affirming care in Russia.

The new law bans “medical interventions aimed at changing the sex of a person” which includes both taking hormones and gender-affirming surgery. Furthermore, it forbids trans people from changing their gender on official documents and public records, prevents transgender people from becoming foster or adoptive parents, and annuls all marriages where one partner has previously changed their gender. It should be noted that the new legislation does not apply to medical interventions needed to treat congenital anomalies in Russia.

Thousands of transgender people and their families are expected to be impacted. Since 1997, trans people have been allowed to change their gender on official legal documents, and from 2018 until 2022, over 2,000 people legally changed their sex when the practice was legal Russia.

Sphere, a human rights foundation that advocates for better treatment of LGBTQ+ Russians, said in an official statement: “It breaks our hearts that with each new law we are not just erased, but dehumanised by having even those few rights and opportunities that we had taken away.

“It’s okay if you’re scared, in pain, and don’t know what to do next. But try to remember that we have each other. Let it bring us together. Staying angry will help you fight or at least help in staying true to yourself no matter what.

“We, as representatives of the LGBT+ community and allies, declare that no prohibitions and laws will shut us down. We will continue to live and do what we think is right. And we will celebrate the lifting of this and all inhumane laws.”

The ban passed through both houses of the lower house of parliament earlier this month. Lawmakers claim the legislation protects Russia against “Western anti-family ideology” and instead focuses on “traditional family values”.

This new legislation follows Russia’s so-called ‘LGBTQ+ propaganda’ bill which criminalises the promotion of queer relationships and identities, and censors media including advertising, books, films and theatre productions deemed to promote LGBTQ+ themes. Russian authorities have used the newly implemented policies to stop Pride marches and detain LGBTQ+ activists.

In an additional blow, earlier this month, Putin ordered clinics to treat LGBTQ+ people for having a “mental disorder”, reversing the country’s decision to remove same-sex attraction from the list of mental disorders in 1999.

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