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Russian lawmakers introduce draft bill to ban gender-affirming surgery

LGBTQ activists wave rainbow-coloured flags during a rally in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, July 15, 2020. (AP Photo, File) LGBTQ activists wave rainbow-coloured flags during a rally in Moscow, Russia, Wednesday, July 15, 2020. (AP Photo, File)

Russian lawmakers on Tuesday introduced a draft bill that would impose a ban on gender-affirming surgery, the latest move in the Kremlin-orchestrated crackdown on LGBTQ+ rights.

The draft submitted by 400 members of the 450-seat lower house, the State Duma, would ban any gender-affirming surgery except that intended to treat "congenital physiological anomalies." Those exclusive cases will be regulated by dedicated medical panels that will be closely overseen by the government.

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

Pyotr Tolstoy, a senior lawmaker who is among the bill's authors, said it's intended to "protect Russia with its cultural and family values and traditions and to stop the infiltration of the Western anti-family ideology."

The proposed bill, which is all but certain to win quick approval by the Duma and rubber-stamped by the upper house before Russian President Vladimir Putin signs it into law, reflects an increasingly intolerant Kremlin stand on gender issues. It comes along with an intensifying clampdown on free speech and human rights amid the Russian military action in Ukraine.

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

In December, Putin signed a law that bans advertising, media and online resources, books, films and theater productions deemed to contain "propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations." The law broadly expanded a 2013 ban on such "propaganda" aimed at minors that effectively outlawed gay pride marches.

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

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