Russian lawmakers vote to ban gender reassignment surgery
The rhetoric coming from Russian lawmakers has framed the crackdown as an existential fight against the influence of Western liberal values
Russia continued its lurch to the right on Wednesday as the lower house of parliament, the State Duma, voted to ban legal and medical gender reassignment.
The country has been hostile to the LGBTQ community for years, but the invasion of Ukraine has seen the Kremlin take an increasingly hard line against everything that does not comply with its definition of "family values."
The rhetoric coming from Russian lawmakers has framed the crackdown as an existential fight against the influence of Western liberal values.
What does the new law say?
The proposed bill would prohibit "medical interventions aimed at changing the sex of a person" and "the state registration of a change of gender without an operation."
This includes "the formation of a person's primary and (or) secondary sexual characteristics."
But surgeries that are "aimed at treating congenital anomalies in children" would remain legal.
"I really want the guys who are now defending the honor of Russia at the cost of their lives to return home and see that the country has changed," the head of the ruling United Russia party, Pyotr Tolstoy, said.
"That we are all fighting for a new sovereign Russia, as a united front free from Western influence."
Russia's ongoing campaign against LGBTQ rights
Russian President Vladimir Putin has repeatedly used attacks on transgender rights, as well as LGBTQ people in general, to claim that the West has lost its moral compass and to further justify its aggression against Western-backed Ukraine.
Last year, the Russian parliament passed a so-called "gay propaganda" law that effectively made it illegal to refer to LGBTQ relationships in any kind of positive light.
Both bills received overwhelming support from lawmakers in the Duma, with the bill on Wednesday being signed by 400 out of 450 members of the house. It still requires two more readings before it can be sent to Putin for final approval.
Russia adopted its first legislation restricting LGBTQ rights in 2013, emphasizing its hostility to the depiction of "nontraditional sexual relations" to minors.
Similar laws have also been passed in EU member Hungary, as well as numerous US states.