What exactly does the bill prohibit?

The bill affects several aspects at once, including medical and social ones.

According to the text of the bill cited by several media including the BBC Russian Service, Mel and Mediazona:

It is prohibited to carry out medical interventions, including the use of drugs aimed at changing sex, including the formation of primary and (or) secondary sexual characteristics in a person the other sex.

In this form, the bill was written before its adoption in the first reading, after which the community of human rights activists and LGBTQ+ activists in Russia began to fight to soften the bill.

However, instead the bill was tightened even more. Transgender people were also banned from adopting children and being guardians, in addition to the previously stated; now the authorities can terminate the marriage of a person who has previously changed the gender marker in the documents, even if this union was “of different sexes”, according to the state. Furthermore, the first such precedent has already occurred recently, as Meduza wrote about it.

In other words, the bill expressly prohibits not only transgender transition, but also de facto transgender people in Russia are prohibited from having a family.

Russian lawmakers adopt bill banning gender change in new blow to LGBTQ+ rights

Bill Context: Previous Restrictions on Rights

This is not the first suppression of civic rights of transgender people in Russia in recent times.

Since November 22, 2022, amendments expanding the scope of the “Gay Propaganda Law” have been expanded in Russia to include transgender people. These amendments prohibit the propagation of information about transgenderism in a positive way.

On December 5, 2022, the government of the Russian Federation issued a decree prohibiting transgender people from a number of professions. People diagnosed with “Transsexualism“ (on the basis of a certificate with this diagnosis namely, transgender people in Russia could change the gender marker in their documents, receive hormone therapy, etc.) were prohibited from the following activities:

  • any activity related to driving a vehicle
  • any activity related to explosives
  • any activity in the field of the use of nuclear energy
  • education and working with children
  • more working specialties

How transgenderism can interfere, for example, with driving, no one explains. Activatica.org wrote in detail about the decree and the reaction of the human rights community to it.

The ideological context of the bill: the official rhetoric of transphobia

The rhetoric of the Russian government has long been transphobic and homophobic. An example would be the quote by V. Putin, spoken by him on the day of signing the documents on the "acceptance" of the four occupied territories of Ukraine into Russia:

Do we want to have here, in our country, instead of mom and dad, parent number one, number two, number three? Do we really want perversions that lead to degradation and extinction to be imposed on children in our schools from the primary grades; to be hammered into them that there are supposedly other genders besides women and men, and offered to undergo a sex change operation. For us, all this is unacceptable.

Vladimir Putin

This is one of many statements by the Russian president that reflect the direction of Russia's state policy towards transgender and other LGBTQ+ people.

It should be noted that in terms of laws and regulations that infringe on the rights of LGBTQ+ people, including transgender people, the Russian government not only demonstrates incredible solidarity (the State Duma voted unanimously for the bill), but also reproduces the same rhetoric that places restrictions on the rights of transgender people in the context of "the fight against aggressive attacks of the West".

Pyotr Tolstoy, Deputy Chairman of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation, wrote in his telegram channel:

Unfortunately, there are more and more such cases [when a person makes a transgender transition]. The Western transgender industry is trying to seep into our country as well… Why is this being done [a bill is adopted]? We save Russia for posterity - with its cultural and family values, traditional foundations, putting up a barrier to the penetration of Western anti-family ideology.

Pyotr Tolstoy, Deputy Chairman of the State Duma of the Federal Assembly of the Russian Federation

Anatoly Wasserman, a deputy of the State Duma of the Russian Federation, stated the following in an official correspondence provided to us by an activist from Moscow, Rebane Ronya:

The fact that gender identity disorder is a form of mental disorder was established by specialists back in the XIX century. The fact that many forms of gender identity disorders are treatable was established in the XX century, but now in many countries still for some reason calling themselves developed, research on methods of such treatment is prohibited. It is also known that gender identity disorders were excluded from the 10th version of the international classification of diseases by force: several hundred militants with truncheons broke into a meeting of the board of the American Medical Association, which was discussing the 10th version that was being prepared for publication, and promised that they would beat all members of the medical associations if they do not achieve the exclusion of gender identity disorders from the international classification of diseases.

Anatoly Wasserman, a deputy of the State Duma

How did transgender people in Russia live before the adoption of new bills?

Transgender people in Russia have faced discrimination before. In 2016, the Transgender Legal Assistance Project conducted a study on the violation of the rights of transgender people in Russia. The study found that transgender people in this country most often suffer from problems with employment. Many employers fear that they will run into problems during checks if they hire a transgender person and his/her appearance and identity do not match the passport data. In addition, they face discrimination when receiving services, including medical ones. For example, often transgender people turn only to trusted doctors, usually in private clinics, because they are afraid and sometimes face discrimination. They do not come because of this problem to the state clinics, where the help to them should be provided with tax-paid insurance.

Doc: Big Open Closet / Trans in Russia

What do human rights activists, doctors and experts think about the new bill?

Prior to the adoption of the bill, the Ministry of Health issued a negative opinion on it:

“If the bill is passed, a stalemate will arise when people, whose gender officially recognized by medical workers as inappropriate to the sex indicated in the passport, will not be able to bring their passport data into line with reality. This may cause ethical, medical and social problems, as well as lead to an increase in the suicide rate in the country."

Russian Ministry of Health

After a negative assessment of the bill by the Ministry of Health, Vyacheslav Volodin (speaker of the State Duma) responded:

We would like the Ministry of Health to not come up with any amendments by the second reading, arguing that this is due to concern for people. You need to take care, if you want, by banning all this fornication.

Vyacheslav Volodin, speaker of State Duma

The Delo Lgbt, an organisation dedicated to protecting the rights of LGBT+ people in Russia, has detailed its position regarding the bill:

The adoption of the bill which is under consideration will lead to the following harmful consequences:

  • Discriminatory law enforcement and legal conflicts when it is impossible to change documents, but it is possible to change gender characteristics, including abroad.
  • Deterioration of mental health of people diagnosed with "transsexualism", an increased risk of suicide and attempts to independently change of sexual characteristics without medical supervision.
  • An increase in hate crime risk against people diagnosed with transsexualism and an increase in tension in society.
  • An increase in the burden on the judicial system due to the need to deal with individual situations regarding the change of documents.

Thus, the adoption of the bill will violate the norms of the Constitution, federal legislation and international obligations of the Russian Federation, and will also lead to a number of serious negative consequences.

Delo Lgbt, organisation protecting the rights of LGBT+

Russian political analyst Ekaterina Shulman in her program "Status" also noted the danger of the new bill and added:

This practice [transgender transition] has been legal … for quite a long time. Nobody cared at all. Neither the Orthodox Church, nor any movement of Sorok sorokov1, nor, God forgive me, "a Muzhskoe gosudarstvo2." Nobody cared about transgender people. But the President of the Russian Federation heard this word somewhere; apparently, he was told that the evil Anglo-Saxons and other Europeans at school forcibly change the sex of everyone to the opposite ... and it somehow got stuck in his head. We, perhaps, are observing with you such not a one-actor theatre, but a theatre for one spectator. [Because] the popularity of a number of [television] formats is clearly declining. At the same time, television itself does nothing, although it is natural for it to focus on the needs of the audience. And then we assumed that there is one viewer whose attention they are counting on. He likes this here. We are concerned here with a senseless, completely aimless, legislative restriction that does not affect anything except the essential misfortune of these people. In addition, essentially, this legal norm is a denial of medical aid to people who need it, i.e., this is a denial of medical care on the grounds now prescribed by law. It is natural to assume that such restrictions, starting with some category, which, roughly speaking, nobody feels sorry for: there are few of them, they are strange, few people have come across them, the townsfolk usually do not sympathize - this is where you can try out some norm.

Ekaterina Shulman, political scientist

You can also read the story of Max, a volunteer in a Russian organisation helping trans people:


  1. Sorok sorokov-Russian social movement, positioning itself as an association of Orthodox believers with an active civic position.

  2. Muzhskoe gosudarstvo (Men's State) -is a Russian extremist men's movement that promotes the ideas of patriarchy, misogyny, racism and nationalism

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