In a mind-boggling move, Russia has now banned transgender people from driving.
It’s been revealed that Russia’s Ministry of Health last month released an updated list of categories of people who cannot be issued a driver’s license.
Not only are people who have physical impairments, such as blindness or amputated limbs, banned from driving, but – for the first time – so are those who exhibit a broad range of so-called “mental disorders.”
This list, which came into effect on Tuesday, bizarrely includes “transsexualism,” “dual-role transvestism,” “sadomasochism” and “exhibitionism.” Those who “pathologically” steal or gamble are also banned from being issued a driver’s license.
According to the Association of Russian Lawyers for Human Rights, the restrictions will allow authorities to rescind or deny a driver’s license to anyone who has been diagnosed as transgender, bigender, asexual, or as a cross-dresser.
It also claims that, for example, simply buying handcuffs and a dildo from a sex shop could be cause for a person to lose their driver’s license.
The aim, says the government, is to reduce the high rate of road accidents. It’s not clear how it believes that stopping transgender people or those who indulge in S&M from driving will help in this regard.
The association said the ban “significantly restricts the rights of LGBT people” and plans to take the matter to the Presidential Council on Human Rights, the Russian Constitutional Court and international human rights organisations.
Shawn Gaylord, from the US-based Human Rights First, also weighed in on the absurd restrictions. “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,” he said.
“Beyond the denial of basic freedoms, this provision may deter transgender people from seeking mental health services for fear of receiving a diagnosis that would strip them of their right to drive, and leaves the door open for increased harassment, persecution, and discrimination of transgender people by Russian authorities,” Gaylord noted.
The organisation described the provisions as “just the next step in the Russian government’s ongoing crack down on members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community.”
Russia’s LGBT community has faced growing discrimination and censorship since President Putin enacted a federal ‘gay propaganda’ law in June 2013.