Texas Senate passes ‘cruel and discriminatory’ anti-LGBTI bill
The Texas State Senate on Tuesday (2 April) gave preliminary approval to a sweeping ‘religious exemptions’ bill. It would allow professionals to cite religious beliefs when refusing services.
LGBTI rights groups have labeled it a ‘license to discriminate’.
‘This bill would allow state-sanctioned discrimination against many Texans, but would particularly impact the LGBTQ community’ explained Rebecca Marques, Human Rights Center (HRC) Texas state director.
Marques said it was ‘a dark moment for Texas’.
The Senate Bill 17 passed on a 19–12 initial vote. It requires one more vote in the Senate before it can be sent to the Texas House for debate.
It allows occupational license holders to use ‘sincerely held religious belief’ as a reason for taking discriminatory action.
The licensing agency that oversees the occupation would have no place to address that discrimination.
License holders cover a large number of professions from barbers to doctors.
Local LGBTI advocacy group Equality Texas warned that the ‘sweeping bill that would empower and protect discriminatory behavior across hundreds of professional activities’.
They said it would ‘open the doors to discrimination and to real harm to LGBTQ Texans’.
The bill does not protect police officers, first responders or doctors who refuse to provide life-saving care.
But, health professionals could deny non-life saving treatment.
Last week, leaders from big companies like Amazon, Facebook and Google came out in force against the bill, according to the Texas Tribune.
Democrats also recently re-introduced a nationwide Equality Act to Congress.
It extends civil rights protections to LGBTI people across the United States and makes them consistent.
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Author: Rik Glauert