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Russian Cabinet rejects bill outlining changes to the Family Code impacting children’s and transgender rights

Source: TASS

Russia’s Government Commission on Legislative Activities has rejected conservative Senator Elena Mizulina’s draft law “aimed at strengthening the institution of the family.” The commission believes that the changes outlined in the bill would tip the balance “towards the rights of parents” at the expense of children’s rights. A draft of the cabinet’s decision was obtained by TASS on Tuesday, October 20.

A group of senators submitted the package of amendments in question to the State Duma in June. It included changes to the country’s Family Code that would prohibit social services from removing children from their families without a court order.

The bill also contained changes that would have major repercussions for transgender people in Russia, including prohibiting them from changing the gender markers on their identity documents (effectively preventing them from legally changing their gender) and restricting their ability to get married.

Earlier today, the country’s Presidential Human Rights Council also issued a negative opinion on the bill, the council’s head Valery Fadeev told RIA Novosti. Again, on the grounds that it would infringe on children’s welfare.

“We prepared an opinion on Mizulina’s draft law, it’s negative. The main idea is that such significant changes to the legislation can’t be carried out in a hurry, without broad expert and public discussion. The topic of taking children away is very delicate. And how can this not be made worse?” he said.

Fadeev added that cases such as these should be handled on an individual basis; each family needs to be assessed separately to determine whether or not a child is being abused or put in life-threatening danger. If this is indeed the case, “[it] should lead to some kind of decisive action, for which it is necessary to involve public institutions and NGOs,” he said. 

“Here too the question arises: how deeply can public institutions be involved in the family? This all needs to be balanced. And at the center, of course, should be the rights of the child,” Fadeev concluded. 

This summer, Mizulina’s bill prompted a series of single-person protests outside of the State Duma opposing the amendments to Russia’s Family Code.

State Duma Deputy Oksana Pushkina called the proposal on complicating the procedure for removing children from abusive families a “primitive prohibition.” She also said that the amendments on the status of transgender people contradict the constitution and pave the way for discrimination.

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