ADC Memorial Statement Opposing Changes to the Russian Family and Civil Codes

Only two weeks have passed since the illegitimate vote to amend the Constitution, and Russian laws are already being subjected to further amendments: Under the pretext of “strengthening the institution of the family,” the government is proposing additional amendments to the Family Code and the Civil Code that violate the principles of Russian and international law and infringe on the rights of LGBTI+ people. The Russian LGBT Network has already spoken out against the amendments, noting that these draft bills violate the principle that all people are equal before the law.

These amendments will significantly worsen the already difficult situation of members of the LGBTI+ community in Russia. In contravention of the European Convention on Human Rights (articles 8 and 14) and supplementing the recently-added Constitutional provisions stating that marriage is only possible between a man and a woman, these amendments propose a direct ban on same-sex marriage and recognition of same-sex marriages registered in other countries, which would deprive spouses of family and civil rights.

This ban also directly discriminates against transgender people who are planning to transition or who already have transitioned. Under these amendments, the marriages of transgender people will be deemed same-sex marriages, and birth certificates, unlike passports, which can be changed, will list “gender at birth.” In this way, a discrepancy between gender markers on a person’s birth certificate and passport will make it impossible for that person to marry. People who have already married but have a different gender marker than their gender marker at birth will also be affected by these amendments because the law will obligate them to update their original birth certificates. These discriminatory rules could also affect intersex people, who sometimes must correct their gender because it was mistakenly defined at birth.

Children will also suffer from these amendments: Transgender people will not be allowed to adopt or act as guardians, even though there is no reason to think that being transgender makes being a foster parent problematic.

Discrepancies between gender markers in personal documents will give rise to numerous problems in different areas of life from proof of relationship and inheritance to obtaining long-term visas to other countries. This will become an additional ground for discrimination, difficulties, and even denial of various services.

Amendments discriminating against LGBTI+ people must not be adopted.

Photo by David Frenkel