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Home / Press Release / Russia Includes Transgender Status on List of Driver’s License Medical Restrictions
January 08, 2015

Russia Includes Transgender Status on List of Driver’s License Medical Restrictions

Washington, D.C.  - Human Rights First today said that Russia’s inclusion of transgender status on the list of medical restrictions to obtaining a driver’s license and operating a motor vehicle is an alarming violation of the rights of the transgender community. On December 29, the Russian government reportedly adopted an updated list of medical contraindications to driving which includes “personality disorders” as listed by the International Classification of Diseases Number 10 (ICD-10) including being transgender, bigender, asexual, and cross dressing. The resolution, which went into effect on Tuesday, may prohibit those who have been diagnosed as transgender by a mental health professional from obtaining a driver’s license.

“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. “Beyond the denial of basic freedoms, this provision may deter transgender people from seeking mental health services for fear of receiving a diagnosis that would strip them of their right to drive, and leaves the door open for increased harassment, persecution, and discrimination of transgender people by Russian authorities. We urge the United States to immediately condemn this provision and to press the Russian government to repeal this decision."

The resolution, which was developed by the Russian Ministry of Health, is the first of its kind to include these “personality disorders.” According to the Association of Russian Lawyers for Human Rights, the new provisions will allow authorities to deny or rescind the driver’s license of a citizen based on his or her diagnosis as transgender, bigender, asexual, or as a cross-dresser. The broad restrictions also discriminate against citizens with physical disabilities such as amputation, while failing to include exceptions for those who have prosthetic limbs or whose disabilities may not impair driving.

This provision is just the next step in the Russian government’s ongoing crack down on members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. Since the passage of the 2013 discriminatory propaganda law, members of LGBT community have faced harassment from government officials, threats of violence, and imprisonment for peaceful public demonstrations. Human Rights First continues to urge the the Obama Administration to appoint a special envoy for the human rights of LGBT people within the State Department to stand as a statement of the U.S. commitment to the human rights of LGBT people worldwide.

For more information or to speak with Gaylord, contact Mary Elizabeth Margolis at margolisme@humanrightsfirst.org or 212-845-5269.