Europe

Possible anti-trans move in Russia: Barring driver’s licenses

Moscow traffic (Photo by Oleg Yunakov via Wikimedia Commons)

Moscow traffic (Photo by Oleg Yunakov via Wikimedia Commons)

Russia may be preparing a crackdown on transsexual and transgender people by denying them driver’s licenses. Some human rights activists fear that’s the goal of newly adopted Russian rules about who can and cannot drive.

In addition to targeting trans people, at least those who have been formally diagnosed as having “psychological disorders or behavioral disorders,” the new rules allow licenses to be denied for several personal characteristics and interests unrelated to driving ability, including fetishism, exhibitionism, voyeurism, “bigender,”  asexuality, transvestitism, cross-dressing, “needing sex reassignment,” pathological gambling, and compulsive stealing.

Those were included in a list of “medical contraindications, medical conditions and medical restrictions to driving” that the Russian government adopted on Jan. 6, along with other characteristics with more relevance to driving ability: color blindness, hereditary eye diseases, having amputated limbs, and measuring under 150 centimeters in height (about 4 feet 11 inches), the Association of Russian Lawyers for Human Rights reported.

New Russian rules for driver's licenses could affect entertainers such as crossdressing parodist Alexander Peskov (Photo courtesy of the Association of Russian Lawyers for Human Rights)

New Russian rules for driver’s licenses could affect entertainers such as cross-dressing parodist Alexander Peskov (Photo courtesy of the Association of Russian Lawyers for Human Rights)

Separate from LGBT issues, those rules are much more restrictive than those  in the former Soviet Union, where amputees and short people were allowed to drive with mechanical aids, the association said.

The BBC reported:

The government says it is tightening medical controls for drivers because Russia has too many road accidents. …

Russian psychiatrists and human rights lawyers have condemned the move.

The announcement follows international complaints about Russian harassment of gay-rights activists. In 2013 Russia made “promoting non-traditional lifestyles” illegal.

Valery Evtushenko at the Russian Psychiatric Association voiced concern about the driving restrictions, speaking to the BBC Russian Service. He said some people would avoid seeking psychiatric help, fearing a driving ban.

The Association of Russian Lawyers for Human Rights called the new law “discriminatory.”

It said it would demand clarifications from the Russian Constitutional Court and seek support from international human rights organisations.

The Advocate added:

“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 Human Rights First’s Shawn Gaylord in a statement Thursday.  …

“Restricting transgender people from obtaining drivers licenses is simply another example of the Russian government’s increased campaign of persecution and discrimination against its LGBT population,” said Jean Freedberg, the deputy director of Human Rights Campaign Global, in a statement Thursday.

Some observers believe that the Russian action is evidence much more of a clumsy, misguided approach to people with disabilities than a preparation for a crackdown on LGBT people.  But the Association of Russian Lawyers for Human Rights foresees dire consequences, as the following modestly edited text from the association’s website indicates:

According to the decision of the Russian government, well-known Russian artists, such as Verka Serduchka; parodist Alexander Peskov, who dresses up in women’s clothing; and well-known foreign singer Conchita Wurst should be refused a driver’s license….

Experts at the Association said that reasons for refusing a driver’s license may be, for example, a person’s visit to a sex shop, if police learn that handcuffs or a dildo was purchased there.

Women with underdeveloped breasts, men with the non-standard secondary sexual characteristics, men with thin beards, or women with abundant growth of body hair may lose their driver’s license or be refused a driver’s license. If police learn about your sexual preferences, such as intimate sadomasochism or a couple exchanging underwear, you may lose your driver’s license.The decision also opens the door to denunciations of LGBT people to police about their sexual preferences.

The decision represents an invasion of privacy of everyone who plans to drive a vehicle. The regulation discriminates against individuals and  groups of citizens and obviously contradicts  international legal norms and standards and the Constitution the Russian Federation. It also opens the door to new levels of corruption.

Experts at the Association of Russian Lawyers for Human Rights will prepare complaints to the Presidential Council on Human Rights, the Constitutional Court of the Russian Federation and  international organizations.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s