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Russian lawmakers introduce bill to ban gender-affirming surgery

Deputy Speaker of the Lower House Pyotr Tolstoy attends a meeting at the State Duma, Lower House of the Russian Parliament, January 12, 2017, in Moscow, Russia. AP file

In the latest stage of the Kremlin’s campaign against LGBTQ+ rights, Russian lawmakers introduced a bill on Tuesday that would ban gender-affirming surgery.

The draft submitted by 400 members of the 450-seat lower house, the State Duma, would ban all gender-affirming surgery except that intended to treat “congenital physiological abnormalities”. These exclusive cases will be regulated by dedicated medical panels that will be closely monitored by the government.

The proposed legislation would also ban legal name and gender changes in public records and official documents.

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Pyotr Tolstoy, a high-ranking lawmaker who is among the authors of the bill, said it aims to “protect Russia with its cultural and family values ​​and traditions and stop the infiltration of anti-family ideology western”.

The proposed bill, which is almost certain to be quickly approved by the Duma and approved by the upper house before Russian President Vladimir Putin signs it into law, reflects an increasingly intolerant position of the Kremlin on gender issues. . This is accompanied by an intensification of the repression of freedom of expression and human rights within the framework of the Russian military action in Ukraine.

Putin, who initiated constitutional changes that included an amendment defining marriage exclusively as a union between a man and a woman, has repeatedly mocked LGBTQ+ rights, portraying them as the trappings of a decadent West. .

In December, Putin signed a law banning advertising, online media and resources, books, films and theatrical productions deemed to contain “non-traditional sex propaganda”. The law greatly expanded a 2013 ban on such “propaganda” aimed at minors that effectively banned gay pride marches.

Rights groups have harshly criticized the law as state encouragement of homophobia, intolerance and discrimination.

With contributions from agencies

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