On 29 December 2014, the Russian government adopted Decree No. 1604 “On the list of medical contraindications, medical indications and medical restrictions to driving”. The decree potentially places restrictions on the ability of persons with specified medical conditions to obtain a driving licence. The Equal Rights Trust is concerned that this Decree discriminates on the basis of gender identity.
Decree No. 1604 was adopted in pursuance of Article 231 of the Federal Law “On Road Safety”, following its amendment in 2013. Article 231 provides that persons with certain medical conditions are either prohibited from driving, or are required to use special devices or vehicular adaptations, in order to receive a driving licence. Under Article 231.4, the precise medical conditions were to be established by the government in secondary legislation.
The list of “medical contraindications” – those conditions which might give rise to a complete driving ban – set out in Decree No. 1604 includes a significant number of disorders and conditions which are classified as “Mental and Behavioural Disorders” in Chapter V of the International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems (ICD-10) of the World Health Organization. Among the listed “medical contraindications” are: “gender identity disorders” (F64 of ICD-10); “disorders of sexual preference” (F65); and “psychological and behavioural disorders associated with sexual development and orientation” (F66).
There are serious and legitimate concerns over the classification of these “conditions” as “mental or behavioural disorders”. Moreover, there is no basis upon which it can be argued that these “conditions” could have an impact upon the ability of an individual to drive safely.
The Equal Rights Trust is deeply concerned by the World Health Organization’s continued classification of, inter alia, “gender identity disorder” as a mental disorder. This classification is outdated and is inconsistent with the modern understanding of gender and gender identity. In light of this recent development in Russia, we urge the World Health Organization to review ICD-10 in order to ensure that it does not give rise to discrimination on the basis of gender identity or other grounds recognised at international law.
Furthermore, we believe that an assessment of an individual’s fitness to drive should only be required where there is a well-established link between a particular medical condition and the ability of an individual to drive safely, with determinations of fitness made on a case-by-case basis. In the case of gender identity, the blanket requirement of such an assessment, in the absence of a clear link between possession of a characteristic related to gender identity and the ability to drive safely, constitutes direct discrimination on the basis of gender identity.
The Equal Rights Trust is concerned at the enactment of yet another piece of legislation in Russia which marks out sexual and gender minorities for unfavourable treatment and risks further stigmatisation and prejudice. We urge the government of Russia to amend Decree No. 1604, removing classifications related to gender identity.