Russia has banned transgender people as well as “those who suffer from disorders of sexual preference” from obtaining driver’s licenses.
The new regulations put trans folks and anyone suffering from “fetishism, exhibitionism, and voyeurism” among those with primarily physical impairments such as blindness who are barred from driving. The Russian government claims it is tightening medical controls for drivers because Russia has too many road accidents.
“Banning people from driving based on their gender identity or expression is ridiculous and just another example of the Russian regime’s methodical rollback of basic human rights for its citizens,” said Shawn Gaylord of Human Rights First in a press release. The regulations have been criticized by the Russian Psychiatric Association and the Association of Russian Lawyers, who rightfully labeled it discriminatory. The ARL is seeking support from human rights organizations in pushing the Russian Constitutional Court to clarify the regulations.
The driving ban is just the latest in Russia’s strategy to criminalize and stigmatize its LGBT citizens. In 2013, Russia banned “homosexual propaganda,” a move which furthered the anti-gay climate in the nation and effectively condoned widespread terror against gay and trans residents. The law has been criticized by President Obama and European leaders like Angela Merkel, and came under fire during the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi – where athletes and activists spoke out against discrimination and out athletes fought to compete. Some also worry that the anti-gay sentiments held by Russia will spread to other Eastern European countries.
Media Resources: The Huffington Post, 1/8/15; BBC News, 1/8/15; Human Rights First, 1/8/15; The New York Times, 4/8/13; GQ, 2/1/14; Feminist Majority Foundation, 7/29/13, 8/7/13, 8/12/13.