Russia proposes law to ban sex reassignment

31 May 2023 05:50pm
Image for illustrative purposes only. - FILE PIX
Image for illustrative purposes only. - FILE PIX

MOSCOW, Russia - Russian lawmakers have submitted a draft bill to parliament that would ban legal or surgical sex changes, as Moscow sharpens its conservative turn during the Ukraine offensive.

Russia has for years been an inhospitable environment for anyone whose views differ from the hard-line interpretation of "family values" promoted by the Kremlin and the Orthodox church.

Pressure had been building on LGBTQ activists in recent years but has grown still more intense as troops fight in Ukraine.

The conflict is increasingly portrayed in Russia as an existential fight against the "decadent" West.

The bill - submitted on Tuesday - would prohibit "medical interventions aimed at changing the sex of a person", according to the website of the Duma, the lower house of the Russian parliament.

This would include "the formation of a person's primary and (or) secondary sexual characteristics." It says the government will determine a list of allowed interventions "related to the treatment of congenital physiological anomalies in children." The bill also de-facto bans legal transitions, since it prohibits "state registration of sex reassignment without surgery." Around 400 members of parliament, headed by speaker Vyacheslav Volodin, supported the legislation.

The bill is the latest in a series of conservative proposals put forward since the Kremlin launched its invasion of Ukraine last year.

Last Autumn, Russia toughened a so-called "gay propaganda" law, in effect banning positive references to LGBTQ relationships.

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Back then senior lawmaker Alexander Khinshtein lauded the law, saying the Ukraine military operation "takes place not only on the battlefields, but also in the minds of people." Some lawmakers also called on officially declaring "radical feminism" - a term increasingly used against political opponents - into an extremist, banned ideology.

In a ranking of 49 European countries, the Rainbow Europe organisation ranked Russia as third from the bottom in terms of tolerance of LGBTQ people. - AFP

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