15 January 2015

Driving Us Out

Perhaps Vladimir Putin is trying to prove that he's the world's most hateful head of state.  Or, perhaps, simply one of the most retrograde.

It seems that every week he finds new ways to curtail the rights of gay people--or, at least, comes up with an excuse for doing so.  For example, he signed a law allowing police to arrest gay tourists--or tourists who are believed to be gay--and detain them for fourteen days.  He rationalized that, and other antigay moves, in the name of "defending children."

Now, we know that a gay, lesbian or bisexual is no more likely to molest children than anyone else.  In fact, most of the cases of child molestation or sexual abuse that I've heard of--including my own--were perpetrated by heterosexual men.

All right.  Maybe we can forgive someone who's not a specialist for not being up-to-date on the latest research.  Hey, I can even understand not knowing the difference between a "disorder" or "disease" and an "impairment".  It seems to me that the latter might be a good reason to keep someone from driving.  The other two, not so much.

Such distinctions seem to be lost on Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.  On 29 December, he signed a bill that prohibits anyone with any condition cited in the World Health Organization's list of personality and behavior disorders from driving.

So, while the law doesn't specifically mention transgender people, it's clear that part of the law's purpose is to keep us from driving in Russia.  Even though I never planned to do any such thing if I should ever visit that country,  the law gives me another reason not to go.

Interestingly, the WHO doesn't list male homosexuality or lesbianism as a disorder.  So, perhaps, Medvedev is playing "good cop" to Putin's "bad cop", or vice versa.  One can claim not to have acted with prejudice against gays or lesbians, while the other can claim not to have done any harm to trans folk.  That's a pretty neat, if perverse, trick.

Although the bill was signed on the 29th of last month, it wasn't released publicly on the Russian government's website until last week.  And, predictably, it didn't get much attention in the US media.

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