Putin Signs Bill Banning Transgender Procedures in Russia

Putin Signs Bill Banning Transgender Procedures in Russia
Russian President Vladimir Putin chairs a meeting at the Novatek-Murmansk's Offshore Superfacility Construction Center in the village of Belokamenka, Murmansk region, Russia, on July 20, 2023. (Sputnik/Ramil Sitdikov/Kremlin via Reuters)
Tom Ozimek

Russian President Vladimir Putin has signed into law a bill that, with a few rare exceptions, bans sex change surgeries and gender reassignment-related hormone therapies.

Mr. Putin signed the measure on July 24, with the law officially published in Russia’s federal law register later in the day.

The act, which passed both of Russia’s houses of parliament unanimously earlier in July, bans any medical procedures aimed at changing a person’s sex, as well as changing one’s gender in official documents and public records.

The law not only forbids altering gender markers and names on official documents but also bars transgender individuals from adopting children.

Additionally, marriages are now automatically voided if one partner decides to change their gender markers, formalizing a practice that was already in place in Russia.

The one exception is that such treatment will be allowed in case of “congenital physiological anomalies of sex formation in children,” which essentially means that children born with intersex characteristics may be subjected to such procedures in order to make them physiologically consistent with their birth sex.

Lawmakers attend a session at the State Duma, the Lower House of the Russian Parliament in Moscow, Russia, on July 14, 2023. (The State Duma, the Lower House of the Russian Parliament via AP)
Lawmakers attend a session at the State Duma, the Lower House of the Russian Parliament in Moscow, Russia, on July 14, 2023. (The State Duma, the Lower House of the Russian Parliament via AP)

‘Protecting Our Citizens and Children’

Russian lawmakers have portrayed the measure as protecting Russia from “the Western anti-family ideology,” with some describing gender transitioning as “pure satanism.”

Russia’s Assembly Speaker Vyacheslav Volodin, along with the heads of all five party factions in the Russian parliament, jointly submitted the bill for consideration by lawmakers earlier in July.

Mr. Volodin said in a statement on Telegram that the bill was aimed at “protecting our citizens and children.”

He called the notion of gender reassignment a “path to the degeneration of the nation.”

Opponents of the measure, like the left-leaning advocacy group Open Democracy, called the move part of the Kremlin’s efforts to turn trans people—and members of the LGBT community more broadly—into a “scapegoat in its campaign to promote ’traditional values.'”

“Putin is keen on signalling to the global transphobic movement that Russia is a bastion of traditional values (remember the surreal moment when he defended JK Rowling in a 2022 national address about ‘cancel culture’) and queerphobic forces from all over the world are willing to listen and learn,” the group said in a statement days before Putin signed the measure into law.

Part of what’s meant to be motivating the Kremlin’s attack on LGBT individuals is that, in Russia, they “often engage in anti-war and anti-Kremlin activism,” according to Open Democracy, which claims that this is part of the Russian government’s strategy of “creating enemies, directing public attention away from real problems and further marginalising defenceless groups for ’state security.'”

Lyubov Vinogradova, executive director of Russia’s Independent Psychiatric Association, called the bill “misanthropic” in an interview with The Associated Press shortly after the measure passed the Russian parliament earlier in July.

Gender transitioning procedures “shouldn’t be banned entirely, because there are people for whom it is the only way to ... to exist normally and find peace with themselves,” Vinogradova added.

In response to passage of the bill earlier this month, a U.S. State Department spokesperson told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement that the United States “firmly opposes discrimination and abuses against LGBT persons.”

“Governments must work to ensure that all individuals can freely enjoy the human rights and fundamental freedoms to which they are entitled,” the spokesperson added.

Russia’s ‘Gay Propaganda’ Ban

Moscow’s crackdown on transgenderism follows a law Russia passed last year that banned the “propaganda” of LGBT relationships and lifestyles, which effectively outlawed public displays and portrayals in the media of homosexual identities and activities.

The law has reportedly since been invoked to ban “gay pride” marches in Russia and detain pro-LGBT activists.

At the time, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken described the legislation as a “blow to freedom of expression.” He also urged Russian lawmakers to reject the bill and “respect the human rights and dignity of all.”

Following criticisms by the United States and other Western officials, Russia’s embassy in Washington decried what it called “attempts by Western states, led by the United States, to impose pseudo-liberal and perverted ideas about human rights on other countries.”

It went on to demand that Washington “respect the choice of our people to adhere to moral guidelines that are passed down from generation to generation and are the basis of Russian civic identity.”

The law expanded on earlier legislation, first enacted in 2013, banning perceived LGBT propaganda that Russian lawmakers said was specifically aimed at children.

Mr. Putin has been a frequent critic of the LGBT movement and notions of “gender fluidity,” which he has argued conflict with traditional Russian values.

“If Western elites believe they can have their people … embrace what I believe are strange and trendy ideas, like dozens of genders or gay pride parades, so be it,” Mr. Putin said in November 2022.

“But they certainly have no right to tell others to follow in their steps,” he said.

Mr. Putin has claimed on several occasions that notions of transgenderism were evidence of “moral decay,” while accusing the West of foisting “alien ideologies” on the rest of the world.

Adam Morrow contributed to this report. 
Tom Ozimek is a senior reporter for The Epoch Times. He has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education.
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