In Alaska, it’s apparently completely fine to discriminate against LGBTQ+ individuals “in some instances.”
So says the official state policy position after a state commission quietly reversed a previous guideline that acknowledged and protected the rights of all people in Alaska, including those based on sexual orientation and gender identity, ProPublica reports.
After the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in the 2020 case Bostock v. Clayton County that discriminating against somebody based on their sexual orientation or gender identity in employment was illegal, the state moved to implement the ruling.
In 2021, Alaska announced that LGBTQ+ protections extended beyond the workplace to government practices, housing, and finance. The policy also covered “public accommodation.”
Alaska’s State Commission for Human Rights updated its website to explicitly state that discrimination against someone because of their gender identity, or sexual orientation is illegal.
“It would be unlawful for a business that is otherwise open to the public to refuse service to a person because of that person’s sexual orientation or for a government regulation to deny a person access to a facility because of the person’s gender identity,” the guidelines stated.
One year later, in 2022, the commission abruptly reversed its decision. The state website no longer has a section protecting transgender and gay Alaskans from discrimination, and complaints are no longer investigated. According to ProPublica, investigations are now limited to LGBTQ+ civil rights cases related to employment, and non-employment claims are being dismissed.
The words “sexual orientation, gender identity, or expression” were removed from the list of causes of discrimination between August 16 and August 18, according to ProPublica.
Furthermore, a lower line on the page stated that it is illegal “in some instances” to discriminate based on sexual orientation or gender identity.
Activists at the LGBTQ+ advocacy group Identity Alaska described it to the outlet as “state-sponsored discrimination.” The group noted that state decisions regarding housing, financing, and other domains could discriminate against LGBTQ+ people.
“The real-world consequences of these policies are harms to LGBTQIA+ Alaskans,” Identity Alaska’s board said.