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Marriage equality and other LGBTQ+ rights in Russia have been set back as lawmakers there make good on President Vladimir Putin's promised crackdown on the queer and trans communities. An author of new legislation proposed yesterday claims her bill will ban marriage equality, adoption by transgender persons, and recognition of same-sex unions registered abroad.
"The bill ends the practice of marriage between persons of the same sex, including those who changed genders," Senator Yelena Mizulina, the bill's co-author, told Interfax. The Moscow Times reports Mizulina also claims the bill bans transgender adoption.
Same-sex unions are not recognized in the former Soviet Union, but a loophole currently exists in the family's country Family Code that has been used in the past to grant official recognition for same-sex unions registered abroad. The legislation proposed yesterday will close that loophole.
Earlier this month voters approved a series of amendments to the country's constitution, including one defining marriage as only between a man and woman. One of amendments also resets the start of term limits for Putin, meaning he can serve an additional two terms as president. The vote was largely symbolic as the proposals had already been approved by the Russian legislature.
The U.S. Embassy in Moscow had flown a rainbow pride flag during the election as a sign of solidarity with the Russian LGBTQ+ community. President Trump has forbidden flying rainbow flags on poles outside U.S. embassies or other government buildings without specific authorization. The ban only applies to flag poles, though, so the embassy suspended the flag from a line strung between two balconies overlooking the street.
The outlook is cloudy at best for the LGBTQ+ community in Russia. The Washington Blade reported 40 protesters were arrested during the election while demonstrating against the arrest of activist Yulia Tsvetkova. Yesterday's legislation only adds to the concerns of local activists.
"When these amendments come into effect, then in fact the state will only support conservative values and promote them," Max Olenichev, a lawyer with the LGBTQ+ group Coming Out, told NBC News. "LGBT people will be left behind. Our society really looks up to what the government does, so any kinds of public actions promoting homophobia, transphobia, biphobia, many people may perceive as a call for action. And we believe that there will be more hate speech and hate crimes, and that LGBT people will suffer more violence."