Russia has banned transsexuals, transgenders, fetishists, exhibitionists and others with “sex disorders,” arguably including gays and lesbians, from getting driver’s licenses in an effort, the government says, to cut traffic accidents. Those Russians were singled out along with people shorter than 150 cm (4-foot-11) and amputees.
The policy came down in a decree signed by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev on Dec. 29, just before the Russian government went on its New Year-Orthodox Christmas holiday. More specifically, the decree bans individuals with “gender identity disorders, disorders of sexual preference and psychological and behavioral disorders associated with sexual development and orientation,” according to Mashable.
Maria Bast, chairwoman of the Association of Russian Lawyers for Human Rights, called the legislation a “flagrant violation of human rights made by the government involving itself in the private lives of its citizens.”
Her group will file a complaint with the Presidential Council on Human Rights and the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation, a blog post on its website said.
The Russian government came under heavy international criticism in 2013 when President Vladimir Putin signed a law that bans the spread of “propaganda of non-traditional sexual relations to minors.” That includes the public display of gay pride flags or the public defense of LGBT relationships.
Numerous activist groups protested the law during the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, drawing further international attention to it. The "propaganda" law led to an increase in violence against LGBT individuals, according to Human Rights Watch, particularly immediately after it was introduced.
The decree does not explain why a transgender or transsexual person would be less capable of properly driving a vehicle. Around 28,000 Russians died in traffic accidents in 2012, a rate of about five deaths per 1,000 (total population).
The Russian government posted the decree on its website on Monday. Ministers are off on holiday from Jan. 1 through Jan. 9 to observe New Year Holiday Week and Orthodox Christmas Day, both national holidays, although they could return sooner if ordered by Putin.