Oklahoma – the state of hate

The Oklahoma State Capitol in Oklahoma City

Oklahoma State Capitol in Oklahoma City (© Caleb Long)

It’s been revealed that lawmakers in the US state of Oklahoma are set to consider an astonishing 26 anti-LGBT bills this year.

The groups Human Rights Campaign (HRC) and Freedom Oklahoma described the pending raft of legislation as “a barrage of egregious anti-LGBT bills being pushed in the Oklahoma state legislature by anti-equality activists.”

They said this was the most in any single state in the US, where over 100 anti-LGBT bills are being proposed across the country.

Located in the South Central United States, and part of the conservative Christian “Bible Belt,” Oklahoma is the 28th most populous of the 50 states.

“Oklahoma is regrettably leading the nation in the number of bills attacking LGBT people, their families, and visitors in the 2016 legislative session,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow.

“These vile attacks are shameful, far reaching, and would no doubt be incredibly destructive to this great state – resulting in multiple, expensive legal challenges and a greatly damaged reputation.”

Among the measures on the table are a dangerous pro-“conversion therapy” bill; numerous pieces of legislation aimed at undermining marriage equality; proposals to use religion as a legal reason to refuse goods or services to LGBT people; and bills seeking to restrict transgender people from using facilities consistent with their gender identity.

“For the second year in a row, a handful of Oklahoma legislators have decided to engage in the politics of distraction rather than attempting to address the real problems of our state, such as a budget shortfall set to exceed a billion dollars,” commented Freedom Oklahoma Executive Director Troy Stevenson.

“Our community will not sit idly by while an agenda of discrimination is unleashed. We will be present, we will force lawmakers to look us in the eye, and we will not rest until this agenda of hate is stopped once and for all,” said Stevenson.

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