Florida legislature considers revoking LGBTQ rights

LGBTQ Floridians and visitors’ rights are at risk. File photo.

The Florida legislature is considering a bill that could strip nearly 600,000 LGBTQ Floridians of their civil rights protections. HB 3 is couched in terms that never even mention LGBTQ people or discrimination against them.

The brief description of the bill says: “HB 3 – Preemption of Local Regulations. Preemption of Local Regulations; Prohibits local governments from imposing or adopting new regulations on businesses & business entities…. There are several other restrictions in addition to those.

The problem? Although Florida does not have a statewide law that protects LGBTQ civil rights. But, over 60 percent of the state’s citizens are protected by local civil rights laws, according to Equality Florida Senior Policy Director Joe Saunders.

Saunders told NewNowNext in an interview that, “In Florida over the last 20 years, we’ve passed local nondiscrimination laws and local protections for the LGBTQ community in over 60% of the state.Laws that say it’s illegal to fire someone because they’re gay or transgender and laws that protect us in housing, public spaces, and public accommodations are all at risk.”

Jon Harris Maurer, Equality Florida’s Public Policy Director said, “HB 3 could threaten dozens of local human rights ordinances that currently protect 60% of Floridians from discrimination, ordinances that protect LGBTQ minors from so-called ‘conversion therapy,’ equal benefits ordinances, and more. This legislation would move Florida in the wrong direction and could open the door for statewide discrimination in employment, housing, and public accommodations.

“The sweeping implications of HB 3 mirror similar effects of North Carolina’s notorious HB 2 — a preemption law that repealed local LBGTQ protections. HB 2 cost the state an estimated $600 million in lost revenue from businesses boycotting the state, canceled conventions, and national sports events relocating to more LGBTQ-friendly municipalities,” he added.

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Saunders also claimed that not only civil rights protections, but bans on so-called “conversion therapy” would also be ruled void. Twenty communities in the state, including two counties, have banned the practice of a process that has been called child abuse and torture by advocates of the bans.

Following North Carolina’s lead in attempting to limit LGBTQ rights, and particularly transgender rights, the state passed a “compromise” bill after nationwide opposition to the original law rained down on the state. Activists say the compromise accomplished nothing, except keeping North Carolinians from having LGBTQ protections until the end of 2020.

Texas also tried a similar bill, but it failed to be passed by the state House in 2017. However, a similar bill has been introduced in the Lone Star State this session.

The author of the Florida bill says he thinks it is to prevent cities from outlawing the sale of some brands of sun-tan lotion.

Copyright The Gayly – March 14, 2019 @ 4:25 p.m. CDT.