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Russia’s first transgender politician drops her run for governor due to anti-LGBTQ bill

Yulia Alyoshina said council members who initially supported her later retracted their backing, citing a bill banning gender transitioning under consideration in the Duma.
A man casts his ballot at a polling station during a parliamentary elections in Moscow, Russia, Saturday, Sept. 18, 2021. Sunday will be the last of three days voting for a new parliament that is unlikely to change the country's political complexion. There's no expectation that United Russia, the party devoted to President Vladimir Putin, will lose its dominance in the State Duma.
A man casts his ballot at a polling station during parliamentary elections in Moscow in 2021.Pavel Golovkin / AP file
/ Source: The Associated Press

TALLINN, Estonia — Russia’s first openly transgender politician has abandoned plans to run in a gubernatorial election, saying that the country’s latest anti-LGBTQ bill has eroded the support needed to register her candidacy.

Yulia Alyoshina had planned to represent the opposition Civil Initiative party at the polls in southern Siberia’s Altai region in September, when it will elect a new governor.

Alyoshina had intended to fight for LGBTQ rights in the course of her campaign and opposed a new bill outlawing gender-affirming procedures in Russia. The legislation was initially approved by Russia’s lower house of parliament, the State Duma, on June 14.

But on Monday, Alyoshina said she had been unable to gather the minimum number of signatures — 502 — needed from members of local municipal councils and village heads to take part.

Alyoshina wrote in a Telegram post Monday that 19 council members “were unequivocally ready to put their signatures in support of my nomination,” while others initially supported her but later retracted their backing, citing the bill banning gender transitioning currently under consideration in the Duma.

Introduced in 2012, Russia’s “municipal filter” obliges candidates running for local office to collect signatures of support from members of municipal councils.

The requirement has been criticized by civil rights groups as a means for state officials to bar opposition candidates.

Russia’s LGBTQ community has been under growing pressure for a decade, with President Vladimir Putin and the Russian Orthodox Church embarking on a campaign to preserve what they deem the country’s “traditional values.”

The proposed bill bans any “medical interventions aimed at changing the sex of a person” as well as changing one’s gender in official documents and public records.

Senior lawmaker Pyotr Tolstoy, who is among the bill’s sponsors, has said the law is intended to “protect Russia with its cultural and family values and traditions and to stop the infiltration of the Western anti-family ideology.”

The bill must receive three readings by the State Duma, but there is little doubt it will pass because about 400 members of the 450-seat house signed it, including the house speaker and the leaders of all political factions.