Russia bans drivers with 'sexual or gender disorders'

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Russia Bans Drivers With Sexual or Gender 'Disorders'

Russia says those with what it calls "disorders" of sexual preference or gender identity can no longer hold driver's licenses.

A list came down from Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev's office last month that disqualifies those with certain mental or behavioral disorders from driving.

The order references certain subsections of the World Health Organization's International Classification of Diseases: mental, gender or sexual identity disorders including transsexualism, fetishism, exhibitionism, compulsive theft or pathological gambling.

The government explains the new driving rules are intended to reduce deaths from road traffic accidents, but the announcement generated fierce and immediate criticism from civil rights advocates. Human Rights First called it "an alarming violation of the rights of the transgender community."

A representative from the Russian Psychiatric Association voiced concern to the BBC that some people "would avoid seeking psychiatric help, fearing a driving ban."

The new rules come as Russia has clamped down on the rights of gays and others practicing what it considers "non-traditional lifestyles." Human Rights Watch reports a marked escalation of homophobia in the country starting in late 2012.

USA Today reports human rights lawyers in Russia plan to demand clarification of the new rules from the country's Constitutional Court.

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