Mon, 10 Aug 2020

Following the recent approval of a constitutional amendment that bans same-sex marriages in Russia, a group of lawmakers has proposed legislation that would prevent people who have changed their gender from getting married or adopting children.

'The bill ends the practice of registering marriage between individuals of the same sex, including transgender persons, and, therefore, the adoption of children by such couples,' said an explanatory note attached to the package of changes to the Family Code presented to the State Duma on July 14.

The draft text of the bill has not yet been published on the lower house of parliament's website.

The proposal, intended 'to strengthen the institution of the family,' comes after a controversial package of constitutional amendments signed into law earlier this month paved the way for President Vladimir Putin to extend his presidency and, among other things, codified marriage as the 'union of a man and woman.'

The new proposal follows on that legislation and was initiated by Yelena Mizulina, who serves as chair of a temporary commission in the upper parliament house tasked with preparing proposed alterations to the Family Code.

Shortly after the conclusion of nationwide voting on the constitutional amendments on July 1, Putin told a constitutional working group that that gender-based discrimination and other forms of discrimination -- which are prohibited by unchanged articles of the constitution -- could not exist in Russia.

'I want to emphasize once again -- there hasn't been, and will not be anything in Russia related to restrictions on rights based on race, sexual orientation, nationality, or religion,' Putin said on July 3 amid international criticism of the amendments and controversy in Russia over some Western embassies' decision to fly the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) flag.

But critics of the constitutional amendments, which were adopted less than six months after Putin called for substantial changes to the 1993 document, say that they have opened the door to state-sanctioned discrimination against minority groups of many kinds, including members of the LGBT community.

Numerous Controversies

The 65-year-old Mizulina, who represents the Omsk region in the Federation Council and has served as chairwoman of the body's committee on women's, children's, and family affairs, has been tied to numerous controversies.

In 2013, Mizulina authored a bill that imposed draconian restrictions against the positive depiction of or education of homosexuality, which is technically legal in Russia. Known informally as the 'gay propaganda law,' the legislation's passage prompted harsh criticism from rights activists and Western governments.

In 2014, she was included among the first Russian political figures to be placed under U.S. sanctions following the Kremlin's seizure of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula. Following the punitive action, any assets Mizulina had in the United States were frozen and she was barred from entering the country.

In 2017, Mizulina proposed legislation that would decriminalize certain types of domestic violence, saying it was ridiculous that a family member could be imprisoned for a 'slap.' Under the law, first-time offenders no longer face criminal prosecution for domestic violence.

In 2019, she was behind the temporary suspension of yoga classes in Russian prisons after she sent a complaint to the Prosecutor-General's Office alleging that the spiritual practice 'provokes uncontrollable sexual arousal that can lead to homosexuality' and questioning its legality in Russia. Yoga was reinstated after prison officials determined that it did not pose the danger of recruiting homosexuals.

SEE ALSO: Russian Prisons Reportedly Suspend Yoga After Claims It Makes Inmates Gay

Mizulina, who is also active in Russian state efforts to police the Internet, most recently attracted attention for appearing to support prohibitions as a sign of freedom.

'What are rights? They're the biggest lack of freedom. I can tell you that the more rights you have, the less free we are,' Mizulina was quoted by the Moskva news agency as saying in April during an Internet safety forum.

With reporting by the Moskva news agency, TASS, DW, and RIA-Novosti

Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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