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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, January 16, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 03
Trans people cleared to drive in Russia
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Trans people cleared to drive in Russia

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer Transgender Russians will not be deprived of their motor vehicle licenses, officials now say. It had been reported that Trans people would be included among those considered to be disqualified from driving in Russia because of supposed 'mental disorders.'

Reports began appearing in Western news media in early January saying that Trans Russians were included in a long list of people who would no longer get drivers' licenses. The list also included exhibitionists, voyeurs, fetishists, pathological gamblers, and compulsive thieves.

However, Russian Health Minister Oleg Salagai later explained that people would only be banned if they posed a danger to others on the road, and just having a 'sexual disorder' would not mean an individual would be banned from driving.

'The varying severity of mental disorders among patients - as well as their need for psychotropic drugs that significantly alter their reactions - make it impossible for [certain people] to drive,' Salagai told the Moscow Times.

The list of disqualifying 'personality and behavioral disorders' was adapted from the World Health Organization's list of disorders. The WHO still lists Trans people as having 'disorders of sexual preference,' but the organization's officials said they are now reviewing their list of sexual disorders.

Since sexual orientation is not listed as a mental disorder, it would not be a disqualifying factor. Russia has outlawed 'promoting' Gay sexuality, however.



The new driving regulations have been criticized even by officially recognized Russian organizations.

Valery Evtushenko from the Russian Psychiatric Association told the BBC Russian Service he was worried that some people would avoid seeking psychiatric help, for fearing they would lose their driving rights.

The Association of Russian Lawyers for Human Rights called the new law 'discriminatory,' and said it would demand clarifications from the Russian Constitutional Court. The group also vowed to seek support from international human rights organizations.

Mikhail Strakhov, a Russian psychiatric expert, told BBC News that the definition of 'personality disorders' was too vague and some disorders would not affect a person's ability to drive a car safely.

But Russia's Professional Drivers Union supported the regulations.

'We have too many deaths on the road, and I believe toughening medical requirements for applicants is fully justified,' said the union's head Alexander Kotov.

However, he said the requirements should not be so strict for non-professional drivers.

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