The annual number of anti-LGBTQ bills to have been filed in the US has catapulted from 41 throughout the whole of 2018 to 238 in less than three months of 2022.
According to data compiled by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and LGBT+ advocacy group Freedom for All Americans, then analyzed by NBC News, state lawmakers have proposed a record 238 bills that aim to limit the rights of LGBTQ Americans this year alone, with approximately over half of them levelled towards transgender people specifically.
This figure amounts to more than three per day.
65 per cent of those filed target the transgender community, with the wave legislative strikes including mostly measures restricting LGBTQ matters in school curriculums, permitting religious exemptions to discriminate against LGBTQ+ people, and limiting trans people’s ability to play sports, use bathrooms that correspond with their gender identity and receive gender-affirming health care.
The figures also reveal that close to 670 anti-LGBTQ bills have been filed in total since 2018, with nearly all of the country’s 50 state legislatures all having weighed at least one bill.
191 bills were proposed in last year alone, with Human Rights Campaign (HRC) hailing 2021 the “Worst Year in Recent History for LGBTQ State Legislative Attacks”.
The sharp incline comes despite – or perhaps more as a result of – support for LGBTQ+ freedoms increasing in the US, with a survey from Public Religion Research Institute this month showing that nearly 8 in 10 Americans (79 percent) support laws that protect queer people from discrimination in jobs, housing and public accommodations.
Further findings indicated that nearly 70 percent of Americans support same-sex marriage, an increase from 54 percent in 2014.
Chase Strangio, the deputy director for transgender justice at the ACLU LGBT & HIV Project, said: “It’s important for people to pause and think about what is happening — especially in the health care context — because what we’re seeing is that the state should have the authority to declare a population of people so undesirable that their medical care that they need to survive becomes a crime”
Continuing “What more terrifying intrusion of the state could there be?”
Activists and political experts suggest that LGBTQ+ rights have become more of a strategic political chess piece used to garner voter support from the religious conservative right.
Gabriele Magni, assistant professor of political science at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, suggested that: “Conservative politicians, conservative religious leaders, religious organizations, and sometimes conservative scholars, often present themselves as defenders of traditional values and traditional institutions in society,”
Adding that: “LGBTQ rights have become a natural target because they go against one of the most traditional institutions of society, and that is the family.”