International News

Russia Passes Law Banning Gender Reassignment

Leacsaidh MacDonald Marlow

The Russian Duma have voted to pass a draft law which will completely ban its citizens from undergoing gender reassignment surgery or legally changing their gender. Leacsaidh MacDonald Marlow discusses how the draft came about and what UK students’ views are about the implications this legislation may have for LGBTQ+ rights in this country.

The bill comes as the latest in a long train of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation, and, after being passed by the Duma, it required approval from the Federation Council and signing by President Putin before becoming law.

The draft was signed by Putin on 25th July and thus was passed as law, banning any “medical interventions aimed at changing the sex of a person” and the altering of anyone’s gender on official documents, with the sole exception being the treatment of congenital defects in children.

As has been reported, this law, along with other recent changes in legislation, have been with the aim of ‘protecting [Russia’s] traditional family values’; it follows a constitutional reform in 2020 which banned same-sex marriage.

The country’s first transgender politician, told CNN that […] the repercussions will be harsh

State Duma speaker Vyacheslav Volodin refers to gender reassignment as “unacceptable” for Russia, claiming it will result in the “degeneration” of the country.

Yulia Alyoshina, the country’s first transgender politician, told CNN that “Once the bill becomes law, the repercussions will be harsh, as transgender individuals will be denied the right for medical care, which is constitutionally guaranteed,”, also referring to it as “a real genocide of transgender people”.

Human Rights Activists have expressed concern that the banning of medical gender reassignment will force those seeking treatment to turn to black markets for hormone therapies, which is extremely dangerous.

Furthermore, they are worried that being unable to access gender affirming care might cause transgender people, especially young people and teenagers, to turn to suicide.

The general consensus among students in the UK is […] this ban certainly sets a worrying precedent for many countries worldwide

Impact spoke to a number of students about this issue, both at the University of Nottingham and more widely.

Students and young people across England have similarly expressed concern regarding what this means for transgender people in Russia, as well as the possible impact on the UK’s LGBTQ+ legislation.

The general consensus among students in the UK is that, while the UK government is unlikely to be seen ‘pay[ing] much heed’ to Russia’s policy changes, they feel this ban certainly sets a worrying precedent for many countries worldwide; while the UK might not be seen directly following Russia’s legislation patterns, students are concerned this change may be seen as “a sign” that it is okay to be passing similar laws elsewhere.

Just the latest in a stream of legislative changes

Some students expressed views that, although the UK may not see any legal changes as a result, the illegality of gender reassignment will almost certainly “increase the views of those who are anti-trans and anti-LGBTQ+”, which they worry could potentially leading to a shift in focus of the UK’s government if such views are held by members of parliament.

This change in Russia is just the latest in a stream of legislative changes that have UK students worried for the safety and welfare of LGBTQ+ people across the world.

Leacsaidh MacDonald Marlow

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