- Government says it’s tightening medical controls to cut road accidents
- Also on restricted list are ‘pathological’ gamblers and compulsive thieves
- Human rights groups and Russian psychologists have condemned move
- Law follows international outrage at Russia’s position on homosexuality
Jack Crone for MailOnline
Russia has banned transsexual and transgender people from driving as they are deemed to have ‘mental disorders’ which make them more likely to crash.
Also on the list of those prohibited from obtaining licences are exhibitionists, fetishists and voyeurists – with the government claiming it is tightening medical controls as Russia has too many road accidents.
The shocking announcement follows international outrage at Russia’s position on homosexuality and their harassment of gay-rights activists prior to the Sochi Winter Olympics.
New ban: Russia has banned transsexual and transgender people from driving as they are deemed ‘mental disorders’ which make them more likely to crash. (Above, a traffic jam in central Moscow)
Russian psychiatrists and human rights lawyers have condemned the move – which also puts ‘pathological’ gamblers and compulsive thieves on the banned list.
Speaking to the BBC Russian Service, Valery Evtushenko at the Russian Psychiatric Association, voiced concern about the driving restrictions.
He claimed that some people would avoid seeking psychiatric help in fear of losing their licence.
And Mikhail Strakhov, a Russian psychiatric expert, said the definition of ‘personality disorders’ was far too vague – with many disorders listed not affecting a person’s ability to safely drive a car.
The Association of Russian Lawyers for Human Rights labelled the new law ‘discriminatory’.
It said it would demand further clarity from the Russian Constitutional Court while also seeking support from international human rights groups.
Strict: Also on the list of those restricted from driving are ‘pathological’ gamblers and compulsive thieves
But the Professional Drivers Union supported the move, with the group’s chief Alexander Kotov, saying: ‘We have too many deaths on the road, and I believe toughening medical requirements for applicants is fully justified.’
The new driving regulations come after Russia’s attitude to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) citizens was condemned internationally.
The government’s stance on its LGBT residents came under intense scrutiny last year as the world speculated as to how its controversial ‘gay propaganda’ law would affect foreign athletes participating in the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, as well as fans in attendance.
International criticism: Russia’s stance on its LGBT residents came under intense scrutiny last year as a result of its controversial ‘gay propaganda’ law. Above, Russian President Vladimir Putin
Human Rights First also condemned the driving ban and put a statement on their website which read: ‘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.
‘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 ‘mental disorders.’
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