by Delphine Luneau •
HB 753 Would Enact Religious Refusals In Virginia Values Act, Potentially Allow Discrimination Against LGBTQ+ Individuals
RICHMOND — Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) — the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization — condemned anti-equality Virginia legislators in the House of Delegates for their repeated efforts to pass dangerous legislation that would allow discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer individuals, including the recent passage of HB 753, which would weaken the Virginia Values Act to allow religious-based discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, and other characteristics.
Human Rights Campaign State Legislative Director and Senior Counsel Cathryn Oakley issued the following statement in reaction:
“Anti-equality legislators in Virginia have repeatedly pushed legislation this session that would allow discrimination including against LGBTQ+ individuals. These repeated efforts have been especially prevalent in the House of Delegates, which has a slim anti-equality majority following last year’s election. The latest example is HB 753, which would allow religion-based discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, and other characteristics. The Human Rights Campaign and our partner organizations across Virginia will continue to work with pro-equality leaders in the state to block all attempts to legislate discrimination. The Commonwealth is best when it’s open and welcoming to all to live, work, and raise a family.”
House Bill 753 is just the latest attack by anti-equality legislators in Virginia. On the very first day of the legislative session, the new anti-equality House majority stripped explicit non-discrimination protections on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity from House rules. And just last week, anti-equality legislators on a House subcommittee struck down legislation that would have given Virginia voters a chance to decide if the state should remove a now-defunct provision in the state constitution banning same-sex marriage.
Already halfway through the Virginia 2022 Legislative Session, anti-equality legislators have filed a number of anti-LGBTQ+ bills. The pieces of legislation receiving votes so far include: House Bill 1133 (exclusionary public accommodations exemption to the Virginia Values Act) which failed to report out of Committee; HB 753 and its companion bill SB 177 (religious refusals in the Virginia Values Act that would allow discrimination including against LGBTQ+ individuals), which passed the House of Delegates; and SB 20 and HB 988 (removal of Department of Education Transgender Inclusive Policy), and SB 766 (an anti-trans sports ban), which were all blocked by pro-equality legislators from becoming law.
Repeated efforts from anti-equality legislators in Virginia to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people come as a record number of anti-equality legislators are planning a renewed legislative assault in state legislatures across the country. It is expected that 2022 will surpass 2021 as the worst year on record for introducing and enacting anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in state houses across the country. In 2021, 25 anti-LGBTQ+ bills were enacted in states across the country — 13 of which were anti-transgender laws across eight states — making it the worst year on record for anti-LGBTQ+ legislation.
In 2021, more than 290 anti-LGBTQ+ bills were introduced across 33 states, including more than 140 specifically anti-transgender bills. Each of these marks set a new record for anti-equality legislation being introduced and enacted in a single state legislative session since the Human Rights Campaign began tracking legislation. 2022 will be a consequential year for children, parents, families, and communities everywhere — which is why HRC will be working alongside in-state partners on the ground across the country, fighting the discriminatory, anti-LGBTQ+ agenda being pushed through state legislatures, and giving voice to the families and communities that are being threatened and silenced. Last year, HRC successfully defeated more than 91% of anti-transgender bills introduced, and 92% of all anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced.
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ+ people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.
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