On Wednesday afternoon, six anti-LGBT bills are set to formally be proposed to the state’s Senate Rules and Legislative Procedure Committee for review. These bills include Senate Bill 35, which would criminalize trans people for using public restrooms and locker rooms that comport with their gender identity, and Senate Bill 66, which the Human Rights Campaign has described as the “super-RFRA.”
The bill would establish that religious practices “should be treated with the greatest deference,” The Indianapolis Star reports, and include no provision, like the “fix” to last year’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act, that religious objections to LGBT rights could not be used as grounds to discriminate.
“It’s unbelievable that some Indiana lawmakers are ignoring the incredible damage they inflicted on the state last year with their disastrous anti-LGBT religious refusal law,” HRC legal director Sarah Warbelow said in a statement released today. “The new proposal is the old RFRA all over again. Lawmakers appear ready to put Indiana’s economy and reputation in reverse and floor it.”
“I can’t imagine Hoosiers want to see their state make national headlines again for all the wrong reasons. This ‘super-RFRA’ is a dangerous attempt to allow people to use religion as an excuse to discriminate against LGBT Hoosiers, visitors, and other minorities. By stripping away the limited buffer put in place last year, the legislators have made crystal clear their true intentions. Rather than trying to inflict even more damage and embarrassment on the state with this shameful legislation, lawmakers should fix the damage they caused by passing fully inclusive LGBT nondiscrimination protections to move Indiana forward.”
The HRC's statement comes on the heels of a recent poll that revealed a majority of people think the midwestern state is still very much anti-LGBT.
Despite efforts by the city of Indianapolis — and its official travel initiative Visit Indy — to rebrand the capital of Indiana as an all-inclusive and LGBT-friendly place, a recently released survey shows only 45 percent of convention planners and 43 percent of potential tourists agree on the accuracy of the city's new slogan,"Indy welcomes all."
The fallout stems from last year’s highly contentious RFRA, a bill that before the “fix” essentially gave Indiana business owners a “license to discriminate” against LGBT people based on their religious views.
“That stings,” Visit Indy’s vice president of marketing, Chris Gahl, said in an interview with the Star. “We certainly were bracing for a little bit of a ripple effect, a little aftermath even seven months out, but for more than half of the meeting decision-makers to recall that as what they most associated with Indianapolis, that does sting and it tells us we have a little work cut out for us still.”