The largest LGBTQ advocacy organisation in the United States has declared its first national state of emergency, citing the proliferation of legislation in statehouses across the country aimed at regulating the lives of queer people.
In a report on Tuesday, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) said more than 70 bills it considers anti-LGBTQ were passed in statehouses this legislative session, double last year’s previous record.
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Some 525 bills were introduced, virtually all by Republicans, including more than 220 affecting transgender people, HRC said.
The number of such bills introduced has steadily increased in recent years, growing from 115 in 2015, HRC said.
As a result, more families with LGBTQ members have been subjected to threats, with some choosing to move to safer places, HRC said, citing survey data and parents’ stories.
The declaration included a “know before you go” guide to help LGBTQ people navigate the mounting state laws.
HRC President Kelley Robinson named Florida, Tennessee and Texas as the most hostile states, saying Florida Governor Ron DeSantis had “weaponized his position”.
“These laws are fueled by an anti-LGBTQ+ Republican establishment — and coordinated, well-funded extremist groups like the Alliance Defending Freedom, Heritage Foundation and the Family Policy Alliance — insistent on trying to control our families and lives,” Robinson said in a statement.
The Alliance Defending Freedom called the HRC statement “slanderous”, saying it was committed to religious liberty, parental rights and the “sanctity of life”.
“No amount of false accusations will deter us from our mission,” Senior Vice President Jeremy Tedesco said in a statement.
Jeremy Redfern, a spokesperson for DeSantis, was more blunt, saying, “This is a stunt.”
Promoters of the transgender bills say they protect children from misguided parents and doctors, even though major medical associations endorse gender-affirming care as often necessary and sometimes life-saving.
Twenty states now ban gender-affirming care and 32 introduced such legislation this year, HRC said.
HRC praised Michigan and Minnesota for expanding LGBTQ rights from 2022 to 2023.