LONDON — Marriage certificates in England and Wales have traditionally left space for the names and professions of just one parent: the fathers of the couple tying the knot.
That changed on Tuesday, with couples now allowed to add mothers’ names to their official marriage record. The change corrects “a historic anomaly” and is part of a larger overhaul of how marriages are registered in the two nations, the British government said. Unions will also now be recorded in a single electronic registry instead of in registry books.
The changes are the biggest to the registration system since the Marriage Act came into effect in 1837, the Home Office said, and they have been in the works for several years. In 2014, David Cameron, then the prime minister, said the system did not reflect “modern Britain” and pledged to make modifications.
But the final stages of legislation to include both parents did not come before Parliament until last month, spurred by a larger bill that passed in 2019. The earlier bill included the changeover to an electronic marriage registry and the extension of the right to civil partnerships to all couples.
witnesses to their marriage to get around the requirements and make sure that they were included on the certificates.
Caroline Criado Perez, a British author and women’s rights activist, said she had refused to get married until the certificates included mothers. “It sat so wrong with me to willingly take part in the erasure of women,” she wrote on Twitter. Others criticized the overhaul as a small and largely meaningless step compared with the other barriers that women face.
reduced the application fee for those looking to legally change their gender in England and Wales from 140 pounds, or about $195, to £5. Activists for L.G.B.T.Q. rights had criticized the cost as a barrier for transgender people looking to officially recognize their gender identity on a certificate.
Almost 6,000 such certificates were granted from 2005 to 2020, though an estimated 200,000 to 500,000 transgender people live in Britain, the Government Equalities Office said, adding that it was also working “at speed” to move the application process online.
SAMARA, Russia — She burst into the hospital morgue and the bodies were everywhere, about a dozen of them in black bags on stretchers. She headed straight for the autopsy room, pleading with the guard in a black jacket: “Can I speak to the doctor who opened up my father?”
Olga Kagarlitskaya’s father had been hospitalized weeks earlier in a coronavirus ward. Now he was gone, cause of death: “viral pneumonia, unspecified.” Ms. Kagarlitskaya, recording the scene on her smartphone, wanted to know the truth. But the guard, hands in pockets, sent her away.
There were thousands of similar cases across Russia last year, the government’s own statistics show. At least 300,000 more people died last year during the coronavirus pandemic than were reported in Russia’s most widely cited official statistics.
Russian scientists had developed a Covid vaccine widely seen as one of the best in the world — but the Kremlin has put a greater emphasis on using the Sputnik V shot to score geopolitical points rather than on immunizing its own population.
Perhaps the starkest sign, though, of the state’s priorities is its minimization of the coronavirus death toll — a move that, many critics say, kept much of the public in the dark about the disease’s dangers and about the importance of getting a vaccine.
to the World Health Organization — is far lower, when adjusted for the population, than that of United States and most of Western Europe.
However, a far different story is told by the official statistics agency Rosstat, which tallies deaths from all causes. Russia saw a jump of 360,000 deaths above normal from last April through December, according to a Times analysis of historical data. Rosstat figures for January and February of this year show that the number is now well above 400,000.
In the United States, with more than twice the population of Russia, such “excess deaths” since the start of the pandemic have numbered about 574,000. By that measure, which many demographers see as the most accurate way to assess the virus’s overall toll, the pandemic killed about one in every 400 people in Russia, compared with one in every 600 in the United States.
another poll found that 60 percent of Russians said they were not planning to get Russia’s Sputnik V coronavirus vaccine, and that most believed the coronavirus to be a biological weapon.
In the Samara region, Inna Pogozheva’s mother, an obstetrician-gynecologist, died in November after being hospitalized with a Covid-19 referral based on a CT scan. The undertakers, clad in rubber boots and hazmat suits, carried her mother from the morgue into their hearse in a sealed coffin, then doused each other in disinfectant.
But there was no word about Covid-19 on the death certificate.
Ms. Pogozheva said she did not know what to believe about the pandemic — including whether, as the widely circulating and false conspiracy theories go, the Gates Foundation might be behind it. But one thing was certain, she said: She will not get vaccinated, even after seeing Covid’s devastation up close. After all, if she cannot trust her mother’s state-issued death certificate, why should she trust the Russian government about the safety of the vaccine?
“Who the heck knows what they mixed in there?” Ms. Pogozheva said. “You can’t trust anyone, especially when it comes to this situation.”
Ms. Pogozheva is appealing to have her mother’s cause of death reinvestigated. The next of kin of a medical worker shown to have died from Covid-19 caught on the job are entitled to a special payout from the state. Ms. Kagarlitskaya, whose father was a paramedic, succeeded in having his cause of death changed to Covid-19 after her outrage went viral on Instagram and Samara’s governor personally intervened.
For all the death, there has been minimal opposition in Russia — even among Mr. Putin’s critics — to the government’s decision to keep businesses open last winter and fall. Some liken it to a Russian stoicism, or fatalism, or the lack of an alternative to keeping the economy running given minimal aid from the state.
Mr. Raksha, the demographer, noted that the elevated mortality that accompanied the chaos and poverty of the 1990s, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, was deadlier than the overall toll of the pandemic.
“This nation has seen so many traumas,” Mr. Raksha said. “A people that has been through so much develops a very different relationship to death.”
In the Samara region, according to the excess death statistics, the pandemic took the life of as many as one in every 250 people. Viktor Dolonko, the editor of a culture newspaper in the city of Samara, says that about 50 people he knew — many of them part of the region’s thriving arts scene — lost their lives during the pandemic. But he does not believe that Samara should have closed its theaters — currently, they are allowed to be filled to 50 percent of capacity — in order to slow the spread of the disease.
The deaths during the pandemic have been tragic, he said, but he believes they have mostly occurred in people who were of a very advanced age or had other health problems, and were not all related to the virus. Mr. Dolonko, 62, says he wears a mask in crowded places and frequently washes his hands — and regularly goes to gallery openings and shows.
“You can choose between continuing to live your life, carefully, or to wall yourself up and stop living,” Mr. Dolonko said. “Unlike you” — Westerners — “Russians know what it means to live in extreme conditions.”
At a Samara church service on a recent Sunday, the Rev. Sergiy Rybakov preached, “Let us love one another,” and the congregants hugged and kissed. One 59-year-old woman, leaving the service, explained why she did not fear catching the virus there: “I trust God.”
A website tracking coronavirus deaths in the Orthodox Church lists seven members of the clergy in the Samara region; Father Sergiy knew several of them well. He said he figured Russia had lifted its coronavirus restrictions because there was no end in sight to the pandemic. He quoted Dostoyevsky: “Man grows used to everything, the scoundrel!”
“We are growing used to living in a pandemic,” Father Sergiy said. “We are growing used to the deaths.”
Allison McCann and Oleg Matsnev contributed research.