RICHMOND— Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) — the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ+) civil rights organization — condemned Virginia’s anti-equality lawmakers in the House of delegates for their repeated efforts to pass dangerous legislation that allows discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and homosexual people, including the recent passage of HB 753, which would weaken the Virginia Values Act to permit religious discrimination on the basis of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity and other characteristics.
Human Rights Campaign Legislative Director and Senior Counsel Cathryn Oakley issued the following statement in response:
“Anti-equality lawmakers in Virginia have repeatedly pushed for legislation this session that would allow discrimination, including against LGBTQ+ people. These repeated efforts have been particularly prevalent in the House of Delegates, which has a narrow anti-equality majority after last year’s election. The latest example is HB 753, which would allow religious discrimination based on 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 across the state to block all attempts to legislate discrimination. The Commonwealth is best when it is open and welcoming for everyone to live, work and raise a family.
House Bill 753 is just the latest attack from anti-equality lawmakers in Virginia. On day one of the legislative session, the new anti-equality majority in the House removed explicit protections against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity from House standing orders. And just last week, anti-equality lawmakers on a House subcommittee struck down legislation that would have given Virginia voters a chance to decide whether the state should remove a now lapsed provision from the law. state constitution prohibiting same-sex marriage.
Already halfway through the 2022 Virginia legislative session, anti-equality lawmakers have introduced a number of anti-LGBTQ+ bills. Legislation receiving votes to date include: House Bill 1133 (Exclusive Public Housing Exemption from Virginia Securities Law) which did not report out of committee; HB 753 and its bill SB 177 (religious denial in the Virginia Values Act that would allow discrimination, including against LGBTQ+ people), which passed the House of Delegates; and SB 20 and HB 988 (removal of the Department of Education’s transgender inclusion policy) and SB 766 (a ban on anti-trans sports), all of which were blocked by pro-equality lawmakers from becoming law .
The repeated efforts by anti-equality lawmakers in Virginia to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people comes as a record number of anti-equality lawmakers plan a new legislative onslaught in state legislatures across the country. 2022 is expected to surpass 2021 as the worst year on record for the introduction and enactment of anti-LGBTQ+ legislation in state houses across the country. In 2021, 25 anti-LGBTQ+ bills were passed in states across the country — 13 of which were anti-transgender laws in eight states — making it the worst year on record for anti-LGBTQ+ legislation.
In 2021, over 290 anti-LGBTQ+ bills were introduced in 33 states, including over 140 specifically anti-transgender bills. Each of these marks set a new record for anti-equality legislation introduced and enacted in a single state legislative session since the Human Rights Campaign began tracking the legislation. 2022 will be an important year for children, parents, families and communities around the world – which is why HRC will work alongside in-state partners on the ground across the country, fighting the discriminatory and anti- -LGBTQ+ pushed by state legislatures, and giving voice to families and communities who are threatened and silenced. Last year, HRC successfully defeated over 91% of anti-transgender bills introduced and 92% of all anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced.
Ja Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working for equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer people. HRC envisions a world where LGBTQ+ people are considered full members of society at home, at work and in every community.