Two Russian activists, Polina Simonenko and Mila Zemtsova were sentenced by the Tverskoy District Court in Moscow yesterday for attending a picket protesting a new draft law erasing the, already limited, rights of trans people in Russia.
Simonenko was sentenced to 14 days arrest, while Zemtsova was ordered to pay a fine of 20,000 Russian rubles. Simonenko is a trans woman and will complete her sentence in a male prison.
The new draconian measures are meant to complement the recent package of changes to the Russian Constitution, which, among other things, made it possible for Vladimir Putin to rule until 2036. According to the new constitution, marriage is “a voluntary union of a man and a woman aimed at creating a family” exclusively.
The proposed law, announced by conservative senator Elena Mizulina (that same one who authored Russia’s anti-LGBT+ ‘propaganda’ law, and generally holds a wide set of bigoted, regressive and straightforward hateful views), is, apparently, “aimed at strengthening the institution of the family.”
The full provisions of the new law are not yet clear, however, it will aim at making it virtually impossible for transgender people to marry, adopt children, or change their gender on legal documents. As such, a transgender person wouldn’t be able to apply for a new birth certificate, passport, or other document reflecting their true gender. What’s more, the law will work backwards, meaning that it will force trans Russians to reinstate their birth sex in their documents, and potentially split families, as a mixed-gender marriage between a trans and cis person will be made void.
On 18th July, a picket was organised by the activists of the LGBT+ Faction of the Civil Society movement to protest the new law. Mila attended the peaceful protest as a journalist. Polina turned up with a placard, but she was arrested before she had a chance to unfold it.
During the picket, more than 30 people were arrested, with the police refusing to give reasons for the arrests. Most of the arrestees were later charged with “violation of the rules of participation in a public event” and subsequently released. However, Mila was charged with violation of 20.2 part 2 of the Administrative Code of the Russian Federation: organizing the public event, and Polina with Chapter 20.2 part 8: repeated violation of the laws on rallies. The two were then kept until yesterday’s trial.
During their, lasting more than the allowed 48 hours, detention, the two women were subjected to brutality if not torture. Mila Zemtsova wasn’t allowed to sleep or to use the bathroom. She later refused to enter the courtroom and was beaten by the court security guards. Polina Simonenko, during her detention, was beaten and had a police “plant” following her to the bathroom and filming her.
Featured photo: Polina Simonenko in the police department with her placard: “I don’t want to be afraid to show my passport”
Both pictures were originally published at the Feminist Faction “Civil Society” (Феминистическая Фракция “Гражданского общества”) blog.
This text was written largely based on machine translation. Any issues, let us know: [email protected]