The Mississippi Legislature passed the bill in a final vote yesterday. The measure allows 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 law sanctions discrimination against LGBT Mississippians in employment, housing, healthcare and education, and specifically allows businesses that provide wedding-related services to deny services to LGBT people. The law also allows certain schools, employers and service providers to prohibit transgender people from using bathrooms and other sex-segregated facilities consistent with their gender identity. It allows adoption agencies to refuse service to LGBT people and allows foster parents to impose harmful “conversion therapies” on LGBT youth.
Statement from TLDEF Executive Director Michael Silverman
“With the stroke of a pen, Governor Phil Bryant has launched an assault on the basic humanity of Mississippi’s lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. This new law 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.
“TLDEF will continue to stand with our community in solidarity against the Mississippi law, 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.”