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Russia Bans Gender Reassignment Surgery to Defend Traditional Values

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Russia's State Duma Bans Gender Reassignment Surgery

Russia’s State Duma has passed legislation prohibiting gender reassignment surgery as part of the Kremlin’s attempt to defend the country’s “traditional values.” The bill’s harsher version was passed overwhelmingly in its third and final reading in Russia’s lower house of parliament, the State Duma, on Friday.

The bill prohibits “medical interventions aimed at changing the sex of a person,” as well as changing one’s gender in official documents and public records. Medical intervention to cure congenital abnormalities will be the lone exception.

On Thursday, the bill’s second reading included provisions to invalidate marriages in where one party has “changed gender” and to prohibit transgender people from becoming foster or adoptive parents.

Before being signed into law by Russian President Vladimir Putin, the bill must be approved by the Federation Council, Russia’s Kremlin-controlled upper chamber that normally rubber stamps legislation authorised by the Duma.

It has shook the country’s transgender population and drew criticism not only from LGBTQ rights activists but also from medical specialists.

Lyubov Vinogradova, executive director of Russia’s Independent Psychiatric Association, termed the measure “misanthropic” in a phone conversation with Aljazeera before the final reading.

Gender-affirming treatments “shouldn’t be completely prohibited because there are people for whom it is the only way to… exist normally and find peace with themselves,” Vinogradova added.

Russia Duma

Lawmakers promote the bill as defending Russia against “Western anti-family ideology,” with some calling gender changing “pure satanism.”

Vyacheslav Volodin, Chairman of the State Duma, remarked on social media, “This decision will protect our citizens and our children.”

He cited an increasing tendency of gender reassignment in the United States, which he claimed was leading to the country’s “degeneration.”

“This is unacceptable for us,” he added, explaining why the proposed ban was approved by the lower chamber.

The onslaught on LGBTQ persons began a decade ago, when Putin first declared an emphasis on “traditional family values,” a campaign enthusiastically endorsed – and, to some part, propelled – by the Russian Orthodox Church.

russia duma

The Kremlin passed the first law restricting LGBTQ rights in 2013, termed as the “gay propaganda” law, which prohibited any public encouragement of “nontraditional sexual relations” among minors.

Putin pushed through a constitutional amendment that prohibited same-sex marriage in 2020.

Prior to Friday’s vote, Yan Dvorkin, a 32-year-old psychotherapist who heads the Russian NGO “Centre T” that assists transgender persons, told Aljazeera that he was concerned about an increase in suicides as a result of the bill.

He also warned that the laws’ prohibition on hormone reassignment therapy, which would also be rendered illegal, risks “creating a black market in hormones.”

gender affirming care

Kentucky’s ban on gender-affirming care takes effect

Meanwhile, In the US, Kentucky’s ban on gender-affirming care for young transgender persons was reinstated on Friday, when a federal court withdrew an injunction imposed by him last month that had temporarily prevented the restrictions.

The recent judgement by U.S. District Judge David Hale means that the Kentucky prohibition will go into effect, denying transgender youngsters access to puberty blockers and hormone therapy.

Kentucky Republican Attorney General Daniel Cameron, who had requested that the injunction be lifted, praised the decision, while transgender rights activists condemned it.

“What the courts are allowing to happen to LGBTQ people right now is an American tragedy, one that will besmirch the legacy of every judge who has opened the door to LGBTQ discrimination,” said Chris Hartman, executive director of the Fairness Campaign, a Kentucky-based LGBTQ+ advocacy group.

Cameron hailed the recent decision as a “win for parents and children,” and thanked the judge for “doing what the law requires, which is to protect Kentucky kids.”

Hartman warned that the statewide prohibition would do “immediate harm” to Kentucky’s young transgender persons and their families.

“They will now be forced to travel outside of the commonwealth or move entirely out of state to access their medically necessary care,” he stated.

Hale’s judgement was reversed nearly a week after the United States Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a similar temporary injunction stopping enforcement of a comparable Tennessee law.

In Kentucky, seven transgender children and their parents have filed a lawsuit to overturn the law. They claim it infringes on their constitutional rights and interferes with their parental rights to seek established medical therapy for their children.

According to Corey Shapiro, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Kentucky, the current verdict “is not the final word” on the topic. It was seen as a “temporary setback” by the group, and Shapiro voiced optimism in obtaining a “positive result” before another federal court.

Hale’s injunction suspending provisions of the Kentucky law came a day before the act was set to take effect last month. The judge stated at the time that the plaintiffs demonstrated “a strong likelihood of success on the merits” of their constitutional challenges.

Kentucky’s GOP-dominated legislature overrode Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear’s veto of the comprehensive transgender legislation this year. According to Beshear, the bill enabled “too much government interference in personal healthcare issues.” Cameron, whose office is defending the statute, is running against Beshear for Kentucky governor. It will be one of the most closely watched elections in the country in 2023.

The lawsuit seeks to overturn provisions of Kentucky law that prohibit puberty blockers and hormone therapy for transgender minors. It did not address other portions dealing with school bathroom policies, instructor guidance on student pronouns, and requirements for educating about gender identity and sexual orientation.

At least 20 states have already passed legislation restricting or prohibiting gender-affirming medical care for transgender adolescents, and the majority of those states are facing challenges. A federal judge ruled that Arkansas’ ban was illegal, and federal judges in Alabama and Indiana temporarily stopped prohibitions. Oklahoma has agreed not to enforce its ban while opponents seek a temporary restraining order. A federal court has barred Florida from implementing its ban on three children who have filed a lawsuit against the state.

Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, South Dakota, and West Virginia are among the states that have enacted legislation restricting or prohibiting gender-affirming medical care for transgender minors.


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