Severely impacting transgender lives, Russia's new law stops trans people from changing gender markers, getting affirming surgery, or accessing hormones. The EU must urgently offer asylum, upholding trans rights in Russia.
Pressure on LGBTQ+ communities in Russia has persisted for decades. Institutionalization began in 2013 with the adoption of a law banning “LGBT-propaganda” among minors. This law prohibited the distribution of information mentioning non-heterosexual relationships or non-cisgender identities that could be accessible to minors. In practice, this law was used to exert pressure on activists and civil society organizations.
At the end of 2022, new legislation on “LGBT-propaganda” was enacted. Since then, the distribution of information about or mentioning non-heterosexual relationships or non-cisgender identities has been banned throughout Russia — regardless of the intended audience. Now, any positive discussion of LGBTQ+ issues in Russia is illegal and can result in substantial fines for individuals or legal entities.
In July 2023, the State Duma passed another law banning all aspects of legal and medical transgender transitions in Russia. This legislation renders it impossible for individuals to legally change their gender marker in documents, pursue gender-affirming surgeries, or access hormonal therapy. Furthermore, for Russian authorities, banning transgender transitions is a "question of national security". The only "treatment" suggested for transgender individuals is "healing of psychiatric problems that led to transgender identity", akin to "conversion therapy".
Combined with the relentless transphobic rhetoric of Russian politicians and authorities, these developments suggest that Russia is an unsafe environment for transgender individuals. Those who choose to leave the country because of their identity should have the opportunity to find refuge in foreign nations where their lives and health will not be endangered.