Over the weekend, a transgender couple in Moscow were legally married, using their old IDs, according to the news agency Grani.ru. Reid Lynn and Sophia Grozovskaya were able to tie the knot thanks to older passports, which show the two to be a woman and man, respectively. (Today, Lynn is a transgender man and Grozovskaya is a transgender woman.) Roughly 40 friends and relatives came to attend the registration, which went ahead despite efforts by police and civil servants to find legal grounds to prevent the ceremony.
First, registration officials demanded that the wedding party remove all rainbow symbols from its attire. (Guests took creative steps to circumvent this restriction. For example, one man donned his rainbow flag as a scarf.)
Next, a dozen police officers appeared at the registration hall, threatening the wedding party with hooliganism charges, saying their dress was an insult to the facility's staff. Officers also pointed out that one of the registration officials had brought their child to work that day (hinting that the wedding could be prosecuted as a violation of Russia's law against so-called “gay propaganda” in the presence of minors). A police van soon appeared outside the building, too, in case officers decided to make mass arrests.
Civil servants barricaded the entrance into the registration hall, refusing at first to open for the transgender couple. After extended negotiations, the couple agreed to leave behind its pride flag, and officials agreed to proceed with the marriage, ignoring the other rainbows that appeared on the couple's clothes. None of the guests—not even the parents—were allowed to attend the registration ceremony itself.
After the marriage was formalized, police followed the wedding party out of the building and to the subway, all the way threatening the group that it could be charged with staging an unlawful assembly.
Grozovskaya says she called the registration desk earlier last week to inquire about marrying her partner. “They told me that they wouldn't register our marriage, if I weren't dressed according to the sex displayed on my passport,” says Grozovskaya, who was ultimately married wearing a woman's formal suit.
In June 2013, five samesex couples (three male and two female) tried and failed to get married legally in St. Petersburg. One couple made it all the way to the formal registration stage, but the attending civil servant said she couldn't complete the legal forms, which define marriage as the union between a man and a woman.