The Kremlin and Vladimir Putin are already under fire for their anti-gay legislation with the LGBT community. With the Russian government’s recent move to ban driving by gays, lesbians, transgenders, whose conditions are due to “mental disorders,” human rights activists are blasting Russia’s new homophobic laws on the grounds of discrimination, citing a Daily Mail news report.
Apparently, Russian officials are tightening up rules governing “non-traditional” behavior and identification with its new “On Road Safety” law, wrote the New York Daily News. The Communist country put a ban on transgender people driving based on fears that they present hazards to motorists because their mental disorders increase the likelihood of vehicle crashes.
Also included on its list of banned drivers are others who are said to fall into the following categories: fetishists, voyeurs, exhibitionists, and even compulsive gamblers. Anyone deemed to have these “conditions” are prohibited from obtaining licenses to drive on Russia’s roadways.
Opponents call Russia’s anti-gay laws discriminatory, and make it more likely that anyone in the LGBT community will avoid seeking psychiatric counseling or treatment for any form of mental disorder on fears they will be banned from driving. As a result, the new legislation could potentially lead to sets of unintended circumstances in public health.
The recent move comes on the heels of global outrage that stemmed from Russia’s outward stance against homosexuality during the Sochi Winter Olympics, which sparked widespread protests. What’s more, it follows statements made by the country’s prime minister in 2009 about his pledge to make Russia’s roads safer.
“We need to get our roads into better shape [They] are a consequence of how we monitor our roads, a consequence of the undisciplined, criminally careless behavior of our drivers. Often, these are not mishaps, but blatant acts of crime,” said Minister Dmitry Medvedev, who emphasized his concerns over the growing numbers of fatalities and causalities brought on by impaired drivers and those unfit to be behind a wheel.
As the Washington Post wrote, in 2011 over 200,000 traffic accidents took place in Russia. Of those, 28,000 people lost their lives. Medvedev’s solution is to ban anyone from driving based on their non-traditional sexual orientation.
Citing Radio Free Europe, via WP, “anyone who subscribes to ‘transsexualism,’ or has the ‘desire to live and be accepted as a member of the opposite sex’ or wears ‘clothes of the opposite sex in order to experience temporarily membership of the opposite sex’ can be restricted from getting a license.”
Many say the ban on lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgenders, and others represents a troubling sign that the old Soviet Union is returning. Then, homosexual behavior was a crime and could land one in jail.
Others say the controversial practice is political in scope. Mary Bast, a lawyer who also identifies as a transgender, spoke out against Russia’s driving ban.
“People who fall in those classifications are legally capable. It’s immoral andiscriminatory…Transsexualism doesn’t impact their driving in any way.”
The country’s constitutional court is being consulted for clarification. However, until then, the ban on Russia’s LGBT drivers is in effect.
[Image via: Macro Insider, New York Daily News]