Russia’s State Duma on Friday passed a bill banning transgender medical procedures as lawmakers say they want to protect the country’s “traditional values.” The bill was strengthened and passed unanimously in its third and final reading in the lower house of parliament. It now heads to the Federation Council, Russia’s Kremlin-controlled upper chamber, which must also pass legislation before sending it to Russian President Vladimir Putin’s desk.

The legislation outlaws all “medical interventions aimed at changing the sex of a person” and prohibits Russian citizens from changing their gender in official documents and public records. It contains a sole exception for medical interventions to treat congenital anomalies.

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Lawmakers attend a session at the State Duma, the Lower House of the Russian Parliament in Moscow, Russia, Friday, July 14, 2023. Russian lawmakers passed a toughened version of a bill on Friday that outlaws transgender medical procedures, annuls marriages in which one person has “changed gender” and bars transgender people from becoming foster or adoptive parents. (The State Duma, the Lower House of the Russian Parliament via AP)

In its second reading on Thursday, lawmakers adopted amendments to annul marriages in which one person has “changed gender” and prohibit transgender people from becoming foster or adoptive parents.

Russia’s Federation Council is known to rubber-stamp legislation that passes the Duma, and the bill’s unanimous support in the lower chamber indicates that it is likely to become law. Putin has previously signed legislation targeting LGBTQ+ people, including a ban on “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations” enacted in 2013 and expanded last year.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin has previously signed anti-LGBTQ+ legislation including a ban on “propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations.” (Alexander Kazakov, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP)

The new anti-transgender bill has rattled the country’s transgender community and has drawn criticism from LGBTQ+ rights groups and medical professionals.

Lyubov Vinogradova, executive director of Russia’s Independent Psychiatric Association, called the bill “misanthropic” in a phone interview with the Associated Press before the final reading. Gender-affirming procedures “shouldn’t be banned entirely, because there are people for whom it is the only way to … to exist normally and find peace with themselves,” Vinogradova said.

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Russian President Vladimir Putin (R) lights a candle during the Mass marking the Russian Orthodox Christmas at the Transfiguration Cathedral January 7, 2020, in Saint Petersburg, Russia. Putin has developed close ties to the Russian Orthodox Church and has sought to portray himself as a defender of “traditional values.” (Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)

Russian lawmakers have characterized the bill as protecting Russia from “the Western anti-family ideology,” with some going so far as to describe gender transitions as “pure satanism.” The bill comes ahead of Russia’s 2024 presidential election. Putin has consistently campaigned as a champion of family values, encouraging Russians to marry and have more children and offering monetary awards to parents with large families. He has developed close ties to the Russian Orthodox Church and in speeches has portrayed western liberal values as destructive compared to “traditional values.”

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