Trans Woman Commits Suicide After Firing Under Russia's 'Propaganda' Ban

Dasha Stern was 22 years old when she took her own life after being fired under Russia's nationwide ban on so-called homosexual propaganda.

BY Sunnivie Brydum

October 22 2013 12:26 PM ET

A 22-year-old transgender woman in Russia reportedly took her own life last Wednesday after she was fired from a promising job because her employers feared they were in violation of a nationwide ban on "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relationships," reports the Association of Russian Lawyers for Human Rights on its blog, RusAdvocat.

LGBT advocates are calling Dasha Stern "the first victim of Putin's antigay law,"  reporting that she lost her job with a central Russian municipality when her supervisors became concerned that they would be in violation of the national ban on so-called homosexual propaganda by employing her. RusAdvocat also reports that Stern had recently been disowned by her parents and kicked out of her home, presumably for being transgender. Stern had recently been approved for a mortgage and auto loan but was unable to make those payments after she lost her job. 

Masha Bast, a top human rights lawyer in Russia and herself an out bisexual trans woman, mourned the loss of her trans sister, calling Stern's death "shocking." Bast and other LGBT activists held a vigil and rally in Moscow's Red Square Saturday, lighting candles and carrying fliers with Stern's photo as they laid flowers in memoriam near the Kremlin. 

"Vladimir Putin has created the system where there is no place for transgender, there is no place for dissenters," Bast told RusAdvocate. "Dasha Stern is the victim of the indifference of Russian society."

This summer, Russian president Putin signed into law a pair of draconian anti-LGBT laws — the so-called gay propaganda ban and another law that forbids openly gay people from adopting Russian children, while also forbidding single people from nations with marriage equality from adopting one of Russia's estimated 600,000 parentless kids. 

The Russian parliament is also set to consider a bill that would remove children from their gay and lesbian parents, claiming that homosexuality is tantamount to child abuse, alcoholism, and drug use. The conservative deputy who proposed that law has withdrawn it for the moment but promised he will reintroduce the legislation after some revisions to the bill's language.

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