Two decades ago, it would have been taboo to speak about LGBTers and their sexual orientation. Due to this stigma, having an open dialogue was nearly impossible at the time. Although the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriages in 2015, there’s still no federal laws that protect LGBTQ rights in Texas.
Nonetheless, despite advancements made, Americans remain afraid to speak about their sexual orientation in many settings. In fact, we still see LGBTers fired, evicted, or denied critical services due to their orientation. One particular discriminatory law against LGBTQ Texans is Senate Bill 17.
Texas Senate Bill 17: A License to LGBTQ Discrimination
On 23 March 2019, the Texas Senate approved the religious refusals bill, which many LGBTQ legal representatives say is a “permission to discriminate”. Senate Bill 17, proposed by Lt. Gov. D. Patrick, gives professional occupational license holders such as lawyers, doctors and social workers the right to deny services to the LGBTQ community for “religious protection” purposes. Additionally, the law would diminish the powers of the licensing board from effectively petitioning cases against gays, lesbians, etc., a situation that would otherwise put their licenses at risk.
On another front, LGBTQ advocates have raised concerns about the SB 17, terming it a means of cushioning those who refuse essential services to LGBTQ members. Major businesses such as Amazon, Facebook, Google and major stakeholders in the tourism industry have said the bill will limit business opportunities. There is truly no benefit from this infraction of LGBTQ rights.
Hate Crimes and Discrimination against Transgender Texans
Since 2007, there have been attempts to change policies such as SB 17, but little progress has been made. The increased resistance to improve the situation is a cause-and-effect phenomenon taking place between hate crime cases and the unwillingness to act by the politicians and law enforcement agencies.
On April 22, 2019, Muhlaysia Booker, a transgender lady, was publicly assaulted by a mob due to her gender. Three weeks later, she died. A few weeks later, the Dallas Black Transgender community convened a meeting after the body of Chynal Linsdey was discovered in a lake. Her death was but one of the myriad unsolved cases involving discrimination of the transgender community. It also indicates the failure of the authorities to ensure a safe community.
Besides hate crime violence, the Texan LGBTQ community still finds it difficult to access medical services, clinical counseling. Other critical issues that require attention include safety and affordable transgender-friendly housing.
Alleviating LGBTQ Discrimination in Employment Fields
A survey carried out by Quinnipiac University showed a rising number of voters in Texas opposing discrimination of LGBTQ members in the provision of essential services. 71% of voters say that businesses shouldn’t be allowed to refuse services to anyone based on their sexual orientation.
Among the sample population, which comprised individuals from each demographic class, 58% opposed that license holder should not render critical services to transgender people as a means of protecting their religious interests. Only 35% supported the motion.
According to the report, Texans think liberally when it comes to thorny matters that touch on gay rights. In Texas, three in every four individuals oppose the directive to deny members of the LGBTQ community vital services.
Get Legal Help from Austin Lawyer Referral Service (LRS)
Are you facing any sort of discrimination because you belong to the LGBTQ community in Texas? The Austin LRS is ready to stand up for you in your pursuit of justice and equality. We will listen to your case and refer you to the best professional civil rights lawyer available. All our lawyers have certification from the Texas Bar and are available for first consultations at no costs at all.
Violating LGBTQ rights is punishable by law. Feel free to contact us if you need a lawyer to take up your case, or for further insights about our services. We will be glad to be at your service.