ACLU Files Human Rights Violations Complaint With United Nations Over Texas’ Anti-LGBTQ Bills

A sign from the April 2023 Queer March on the Capitol (Photo by Jana Birchum)

Yesterday, the ACLU of Texas, Equality Texas, and GLAAD sent a letter to the United Nations accusing Texas of violating the human rights of LGBTQ+ Texans.

During the 88th Legislative Session, more than 140 bills targeted the LGBTQ community with attacks on gender-affirming care, transgender athletes, and DEI programs at universities. The letter notes that seven bills in particular constitute “a systemic attack on the fundamental rights, dignities, and identities of LGBTQIA+ persons that opens the gates for discrimination by both public and private actors.”

Those seven bills include bans on medical care for trans youth (Senate Bill 14), drag performances (Senate Bill 12), DEI programs at universities (Senate Bill 17), LGBTQ+ books (HB 900), local government preemption (House Bill 2127), and allowing chaplains to serve as school counselors (Senate Bill 763). The letter argues that these laws violate Texans’ rights to non-discrimination, privacy, health, freedom of expression and religion, and education under the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights and other treaties, and that the U.S. government has “failed to adopt necessary and adequate measures to prevent these abuses.”

The letter asks the U.N. to request information from the U.S. government on how it is securing the rights of LGBTQ+ Texans, and issue a public statement on the bills. It also asks the U.N. to recommend that the Texas and U.S. governments repeal the bills, remedy the violations of rights that have already occurred, introduce stronger legislation to protect those rights, and increase training programs on sexual orientation and gender identity to government officials.

The U.N. Human Rights Committee itself wrote in a December report that “While noting the various legislative and policy initiatives adopted at the Federal level, the [Human Rights] Committee is concerned at the increase of state legislation that severely restricts the rights of persons based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.”

Oni K. Blair, executive director of the ACLU of Texas, wrote in a statement Monday, “I believe there is sufficient evidence for the United Nations to investigate the barrage of civil rights abuses in Texas,” and that dosing so would put “undeniable pressure on U.S. public and private entities to ensure equality for LGBTQIA+ Texans in our state.” Sarah Kate Ellis, president and CEO of GLAAD, added, “There is a human rights crisis in the state of Texas. Discrimination against LGBTQ Texans, especially in the transgender community, is of international concern.”

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