Florida congressman Allen West
Watch: Congressman Says Antigay Discrimination Doesn't Happen

By Trudy Ring

Originally published on Advocate.com May 11 2012 12:20 PM ET

Florida congressman Allen West says LGBT people don’t have to worry about discrimination — it doesn’t happen.

In an interview Thursday, Scott Keyes of the blog ThinkProgress asked West, a Tea Party-backed Republican, if he would support “a law that says that it’s illegal to hire or fire people because they’re gay.” West replied, “That don’t happen out here in the United States of America.” It’s not “a big issue with small businesses,” he said, citing tax policy and regulations as more important.

West’s statement, ThinkProgress notes, contradicts surveys that indicate between 8% and 17% of LGBT people have been fired because of their sexual orientation of gender identity, and that double that number have encountered some form of discrimination. Only 16 states have laws prohibiting employment discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity, and another five prohibit discrimination based on sexual orientation alone.

West has a history of inflammatory comments on LGBT issues and other matters. He said repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” was an attempt “to appease a very small special interest group” and was unnecessary because gay people “can change behavior.” He recently referred to members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus as “communists,” and last year he said Planned Parenthood and other feminist organizations are “neutering American men.”

Watch video of the ThinkProgress interview below.