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Draft laws impacting children’s and transgender rights in Russia withdrawn from State Duma

Source: TASS

The authors behind two separate packages of amendments to Russia’s Family Code have withdrawn their initiatives from the State Duma following backlash over proposed changes that would impact child protective services and the rights of transgender people.

The withdrawn documents include amendments to the Family Code prepared by the Duma’s Legislation Committee Chairman Pavel Krasheninnikov and Senator Andrey Klishas, as well as a package of bills introduced by a group of Federation Council members led by conservative Senator Elena Mizulina. 

Krashennikov and Klishas introduced their bill in July 2020. According to the draft law, guardianship and custody agencies (or police officials) wanting to remove a child from their family due to an immediate threat to their life or health would have to seek a district court order issued in accordance with a special procedure.

“The senators and I considered it expedient to withdraw our initiatives to relieve tension in society and for further improvements with the expert community,” Karshennikov said in a statement on the initiative’s withdrawal, as quoted by the Russian state news agency TASS.

In turn, Klishas told the news wire Interfax that although the draft law was withdrawn from consideration, his position has not changed fundamentally. He commented in particular on the proposed changes to child protective services, maintaining that he still believes that “judicial procedures [would] better protect the interests of both children and parents than decisions from administrative authorities.”

Mizulina’s package of amendments to the Family Code also included a draft bill prohibiting social services from removing children from their families without a court order. In addition, it contained amendments that would prevent transgender people from legally changing their gender (by prohibiting them from updating the gender marker on their identity documents), thereby restricting their ability to get married and adopt children. 

The proposed changes were rejected by the Russian Cabinet’s Commision on Legislative Activities, as well as the Presidential Human Rights Council.  

Previously, Senator Elena Mizulina said that there are plans to establish a working group to prepare a unified document on this topic, after the withdrawal of the existing draft laws.

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