At least 27 states are likely to see anti-LGBT legislation in 2016, according to a rather gloomy forecast released Friday by the Human Rights Campaign.
However, HRC said many of the bills that were left pending in 2015 will carry over into this year’s state legislative sessions, and new anti-LGBT bills have already been introduced in several states, including Indiana, Missouri, South Carolina and Tennessee.
“2016 will prove a critical year for the fight for LGBT equality in states across the country,” HRC President Chad Griffin said in a statement. “The progress our movement has made is threatened by an organized effort to pass discriminatory legislation that seeks to rollback our hard-won rights. We will have much work to do to defend our rights this year, but we will not waiver in our fight to expand the map for LGBT equality to every corner of this country.”
Legislatures in 46 states and the District of Columbia are scheduled to convene during the first four months of 2016. The Texas Legislature, where more than 20 anti-LGBT bills were filed in 2015, doesn’t meet again until 2017. Montana, Nevada and North Dakota also don’t have state legislative sessions this year.
HRC divides expected anti-LGBT legislation in 2016 into three major categories — religious refusal, anti-transgender and municipal pre-emption.
At least 26 states are expected to see religious refusal bills this year, which aim to authorize individuals, businesses and taxpayer-funded agencies to cite religion as a reason to refuse goods or services to LGBT people. Eleven states are expected to see bills that would restrict access to bathrooms by trans people, and at least five states are expected to see legislation that would prohibit cities from enforcing nondiscrimination ordinances.
On the bright side, campaigns to pass LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination laws are expected in at least eight states — Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Meanwhile, states with pro-equality legislative majorities are expected to consider anti-bullying laws, bans on so-called “conversion therapy,” measures that would simplify name and gender marker changes on identity documents, and bills that would require LGBT cultural competency training for medical and social service providers.
To read the full report, go here.