Urges Governor Phil Bryant to Veto Legislation
New York, NY – The Transgender Legal Defense & Education Fund (TLDEF) strongly condemns House Bill 1523 in Mississippi and urges Governor Phil Bryant to veto the legislation. The Mississippi Legislature passed the bill in a final vote today. Governor Bryant now has five days to sign or veto the bill. If he takes no action, the bill will become law. The measure would allow individuals, religious organizations, and many businesses to discriminate against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people based on purported “religious beliefs or moral convictions” that include opposition to marriage equality and transgender rights.
The bill would sanction discrimination against LGBT Mississippians in employment, housing, healthcare and education, and would specifically allow businesses that provide wedding-related services to deny services to LGBT people. The bill would also allow certain schools, employers and service providers to prohibit transgender people from using bathrooms and other sex-segregated facilities consistent with their gender identity. It would allow adoption agencies to refuse service to LGBT people and would allow foster parents to impose harmful “conversion therapies” on LGBT youth.
Statement from TLDEF Executive Director Michael Silverman:
“This extreme bill leaves no stone unturned in attacking the basic humanity of Mississippi’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. It sanctions discrimination against an entire class of people under the guise of so-called ‘religious beliefs or moral convictions.’ It makes LGBT Mississippians vulnerable to discrimination in all areas of their lives, including in school, on the job, and in housing. It targets transgender youth and adults, allowing prohibitions on their use of bathrooms that match who they are as male and female. And it puts LGBT youth in foster care at risk of being subjected to discredited and damaging ‘conversion therapies’ that seek to change a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity.
“The legislation is the latest in a wave of virulent anti-LGBT legislation in states across the nation, including North Carolina, which enacted its own sweeping anti-LGBT measure less than two weeks ago. National and local civil rights organizations are rightly challenging that law in federal court and numerous major corporations have condemned it. We join their chorus of opposition against legislation that paints a target on the backs of LGBT people, making them even more vulnerable to harassment and abuse.
“We urge Mississippi Governor Phil Bryant to stand up for justice and swiftly veto this bill. These assaults will not go unchallenged. TLDEF will continue to stand with our community in solidarity against the Mississippi bill, the North Carolina law, and all legislation that seeks to put our community in harm’s way. We will work side by side with our movement partners to fight these bills one by one.”