Laws against gay discrimination

Many interviewees indicated they altered their behavior because of these concerns. Human Rights Watch conducted the research for this report between August and January The framing and scope of these exemption laws differ in many respects, but are alike in several fundamental ways. Our interviewees explained that, by enacting religious exemptions to blunt the advancement of LGBT equality, lawmakers sent a powerful signal that they were unequal or unvalued in their community. The laws that states have introduced in response to recent advances towards LGBT equality, however, tend to tip the scales much too far in one direction, often with complete disregard for the very real harm they are likely to inflict.

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“All We Want is Equality”


Once you leave the confines of the urban environment, you get scared as you imagine. Proponents of these laws argue that they properly balance religious freedom with the rights of LGBT individuals. In recent years and mostly since , when the US Supreme Court ruled in favor of marriage equality, numerous states have considered and at least eight US states have enacted new laws that permit people to infringe on the rights of LGBT individuals and their families to the extent they believe that discriminating against them is necessary to uphold their own religious or moral beliefs. The following pages describe the tangible, human impact of such discrimination—which will likely worsen as a result of religious exemption laws—on the people who bear the brunt of it. Related Content February 19, News Release. Finally, interviewees emphasized that the scope of religious exemptions is poorly understood, and many people perceive these exemptions as blanket permission to discriminate based on religious beliefs. She described how these incidents affected him, making him unwilling to seek medical care even when it was urgently needed:.

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States that enact these laws relinquish their ability to ensure that state funding and contracts support services available to all qualified recipients, and give a free pass to potentially sweeping discrimination under the color of state authority. As noted above, Human Rights Watch is aware of at least eight states that had enacted such exemptions into law prior to the legislative session. While LGBT equality is not the only area where exemptions have been debated—particularly as lawmakers have sought to substantially broaden exemptions related to sexual and reproductive healthcare—this report specifically examines a worrying wave of exemptions being introduced to blunt the recognition of LGBT rights across the United States. Religious exemptions not only license the kinds of refusals discussed above, but encourage people to expect and fear discrimination and adapt accordingly. The religious exemptions that have been considered or enacted by state legislatures take different forms. The outreach focused on eight states where statewide exemptions affecting LGBT people had been legislatively enacted at the time the research began:

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