The Human Rights Campaign declared a state of emergency for LGBTQ+ people in the US on Tuesday and released a guidebook summarising what it calls discriminatory laws in each state, along with “know your rights” information and health and safety resources. Sounding the alarm about the current political environment, the nation's largest organisation devoted to the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer Americans said advisories warning against travel to dangerous places aren't enough to help people already living in so-called hostile states.
The campaign said it's taking action in response to an unprecedented and dangerous spike in discriminatory legislation sweeping state houses this year, with more than 70 anti-LGBTQ+ bills signed into law so far in 2023 — more than double last year's number. A report called “LGBTQ+ Americans Under Attack”, says the new laws are a result of coordinated Republican efforts, supported by “well-funded extremist groups”.
The “LGBTQ+ Americans Fight Back” guidebook also provides information about filing complaints for violations of civil rights and points to resources for financing moves and finding employment in what it calls “safer” states.
In a section called Know the Enemy/Opposition, the guidebook offers tips on how to engage in local advocacy opposing anti-LGBTQ+ efforts and how to navigate tough conversations about hate with friends and family.
The guidebook aims to help millions of vulnerable people, "whether they're planning summer travel through regions that are becoming increasingly hostile to LGBTQ+ people, or whether they already live in a state where legislative assaults and political extremism are continuing to put a target on our backs", Kelley Robinson, president of the Human Rights Campaign, said in a statement.
The emergency declaration is the first in the 40-year history of the HRC, and comes as Republican-dominated legislatures around the country have passed bills targeting people based on their identities, including laws restricting various aspects of transgender existence, from pronoun usage and bathroom access to medical care and more.
Among the latest, one of a series of bills nearing final passage in Louisiana would broadly ban K-12 public school employees in Louisiana from discussing sexual orientation or gender identity in the classroom.
The legislation is similar to the Florida law critics dubbed “Don't Say Gay”.
(With inputs from agency)